Local conservatives hope lobby night gives them a voice in Madison

By Jennifer Eisenbart

Staff writer

After standing up for conservative politics during the recent Burlington Area School District budget approval process, a local group will hold its first lobbying event Saturday at the Burlington High School auditorium.

The group WeVote Burlington will hold what it is calling a “conservative lobby night” running from 7-9 p.m. at BHS. Those coming are asked to bring a package of 3×5 index cards as well as 100 or more address labels or an ink stamper.

The idea is to have a number of different conservative legislators speak regarding their bills, and then fill out the cards in support of those bills. The cards will then be hand-delivered to Madison legislators.

The group initially invited State Reps. Samantha Kerkman and Robin Vos – among others – but neither are able to attend.

“Robin is out of town due to a prior family commitment,” said Kit Beyer, Communications Director for Vos. She added that Vos’ office would be interested in seeing the results of the lobbying meeting.

Kerkman said she did not receive an invitation, but would not have been able to attend anyway.

The group said that both Tyler August and Dave Craig – Republican assembly members – are confirmed as coming, and Mary Lazich has been invited.

The group also hopes to have Tim Dake of Grandsons of Liberty – another conservative group – in attendance. That group, like WeVote, encourages limited government and conservative fiscal legislation.

Bonnie Ketterhagen, who is one of the co-leaders of the group with Sharon Asher, declined a personal interview regarding the group, saying that she would only answer written questions in an effort to keep the focus on the group’s idea – not the people in it.

The responses provided did not specify whether it was Ketterhagen or another member of the group that answered the questions.

The goal, according to the writer, is grassroots politics where ordinary citizens get a voice in their government.

“It is a win-win scenario,” the response said. “The attending voters get to have a say in upcoming legislation while the speakers get support for a bill. Paid lobbyists are usually in Madison to influence the vote.

“This is a format to bring lobbying to this area of the state.”

The night was also called a “working meeting for like-minded people.” The person answering said the date was chosen to follow the legislative calendar, and that BHS auditorium was a good, large space.

The group was also asked about its membership, as well as if they had found an audience for its ideas – as well as if WeVote was a “tea party” group.

The answer: “With every local issue; with every zombie in Madison; with every beer poured on a legislator; we meet new friends and have requests to be added to our email list. We respond to the community’s ideas with volunteers who are willing to put their political frustrations into actions. Meeting people who are like-minded is the start of any grassroots organization. Conservatives do not fit into a ‘one size fits all’ label or category.”