The Southern Lakes United Educators building at 616 Droster Ave., Burlington, openly advertises its stance as a “Recall Walker” site. (Photo by Jennifer Eisenbart)

This crumpled recall petition was saved by workers at Southern Lakes United Educators office. They claim a woman signed it in support of Scott Walker last week.

By Jennifer Eisenbart

Staff writer

As efforts move forward to collect signatures to recall Gov. Scott Walker, staff at a local teachers union office claim they saw signs of partisan frustration with the campaign.

According to Sue Cameron with the Southern Lakes United Educators, a blank petition form was apparently defaced by a woman Nov. 23, and a man followed her in a few minutes later to argue against the recall effort.

Cameron said Tuesday that police were not notified of the incident, and that volunteers did not document the situation by taking photos or getting a license plate for the vehicle that left soon after.

“Neither of the volunteers … thought to follow the man out,” Cameron said. “Frankly, they were both kind of stunned.”

Explaining the situation, Cameron said the incident happened at a volunteer shift change at 3 p.m. the day before Thanksgiving. A woman entered Southern Lakes United Educators – a regional teachers’ union office at 616 Droster Avenue – and asked to sign the recall petition.

Volunteer Kelley Wells, Cameron said, explained the process and how to fill out the form.

“She said the woman was visibly shaking,” Cameron explained. “The woman started to fill it out and made a mistake.”

Wells then explained how to fix the form, but then the woman wrote, “I support Scott Walker” and then left. A few minutes later, a man came in angry about the recall effort.

The volunteers asked the man to leave, and the man did leave. The volunteer crumpled the petition, but kept it.

Cameron said that volunteers are using the experience as a lesson for any future problems. Other volunteers were advised of the situation, and suggested people carry cell phones and document the situation.

Cameron said since it happened at the change of shift for volunteers, a brand-new petition had just been placed out, which meant there were no other signatures on it.

“It just so happened it was a brand-new petition,” Cameron explained.

Jordan Debbink, who is in charge of a local movement opposing the recall, said he and his group had nothing to do with the incident.

“There’s about six of us,” Debbink explained. “I’ve dedicated them strictly to the Echo Lake Park area.

“We’ve had no contact with the SLUE offices, or the recall offices,” Debbink added. He added that he is encouraging his group to be positive in its message, and not antagonize those working the recall effort.

“I’m saddened to see this happening,” Debbink said. “I’m also saddened because the backlash will come on the conservatives.”

Wells said Tuesday that this is her first time becoming involved with something political, and while she understands the strong opinions on both sides of the recall, she was a little shocked by the incident.

“She shoved it at me and said, ‘There. I signed your petition,” Wells recalled. “I understand people feeling strongly about their beliefs.

“I’m just surprised,” she added. “It never occurred to me to be so rude to people.”

Southern Lakes United Educators is a regional office of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state public school teachers union.