The most-used word at Scott Michalak’s campaign kickoff on Wednesday night was “poop.” Representative Brett Hulsey said it six times in his speech, alone. It sounds funny, but it’s no laughing matter. Residents of District 38 are worried about human waste in their drinking water (story here). Since the Walker-appointed DNR heads won’t help, and Representative Joel Kleefisch has stood on the side of the company that dumped the human waste, some are looking to Scott Michalak for leadership. It’s just one of the many reasons that Scott Michalak (D) may unseat incumbent Joel Kleefisch (R) this November.
Rep. Hulsey was at the campaign kickoff to speak on Scott Michalak’s behalf, in part, because he said he was impressed by Michalak’s willingness to take a stand and try to warn people about the issue that Hulsey has dubbed ‘Sewergate.’ “Human waste is being spread all over along with untreated animal waste. People are literally pooping in their own drinking water,” Hulsey said. “This is an ‘oh, shit’ moment for the people of this district.”
Michalak has been very active on the “Sewergate” issue, speaking up at town halls, testifying in Madison, calling for the resignation of the DNR officials who took money from Herr Environmental and then let the company off the hook, and demanding answers from Joel Kleefisch, who stood with the polluters instead of his constituents.
Michalak also plans to ask Kleefisch to pay for the wells to be tested properly. At $1,000 per well, the cost is exorbitant for area families, but affordable for a billionaire like Kleefisch.
Rep. Hulsey suggested that “Since he got all that money from his polluter donors, maybe he could just use some of that?”
While Joel Kleefisch went to bat for “a big polluter donor” who put people’s drinking water at risk, Hulsey said, Scott Michalak “is in there fighting for people to get their drinking water tested and safe…it’s a clear choice between somebody who cares for polluters and somebody who cares for people.”
Dick Pas, a Waukesha County resident who ran against and lost to Joel Kleefisch in 2008, agrees. “Scott’s hard-working and committed to the people of the district in a sincere and heartfelt way. He’s real, he’s genuine… he’s of the Wisconsin workforce.”
It was clear to anyone in the room that Michalak is very passionate about “Sewergate,” and he spoke with confidence, which did not go unnoticed by attendees. Kevin, a Watertown man who attended the event with his wife and young son said Michalak “has come a long way.” Kevin is “currently represented by Joel Kleefisch and not too happy about it,” and he is glad to “see someone step up and take him on.”
And while human waste in the water was the number one topic of the evening, it’s not the only platform Michalak is running on. If elected, Michalak would like to fully fund education (his wife is a teacher), restore collective bargaining, “invest in Badger care so our working class poor and small family farmers are not one major illness away from bankruptcy” and support the creation of green jobs using solar, wind, methane technologies “to put Wisconsinites back to work.” (Check out Michalak’s platform here.)
“I’m a real middle class worker, like my predecessor Andy Jorgenson…I best reflect the concerns of the average Wisconsinite who made $37,000 last year. I don’t think a billionaire like my opponent puts himself in the same mindset. He doesn’t worry how hard you have to work to pay your mortgage, your rent, your light bill, your utility bills, your state and local property tax bills; I think he’s more concerned with how much money the wealthy can make by getting a tax cut,” said Michalak.
Representative Andy Jorgensen agreed. He likes that Michalak is “Someone who listens, who is not hooked up to any agendas or special interests in Madison, who just wants to know what’s the right side of the story and the wrong side, and pick the right side.”
But can Michalak win?
Jorgenson seems to think so. “He can win. The district has changed,” he told the crowd. Kleefisch “is now only the incumbent of Oconomowoc. The rest of it is all new to Scott and Joel” and parts of the district go “deep into Dane County.”
It won’t be easy to get Michalak’s name out there, Jorgensen told supporters. “It takes money and shoe leather” to win. Still, Jorgesen said, “Things are going to change, and I think Scott’s the guy to drive that.”