Brief

Small business advocacy group joins National Voter Registration Day campaign

By: - September 21, 2022 6:15 am

Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

Among the collection of organizations and political figures highlighting National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, members of a group representing small business owners added their voice to the campaign.

The message is nonpartisan, but also aimed at showing politicians the power that small business operators have, said Shawn Phetteplace, midwest manager for Main Street Alliance.

“One of the most trusted messengers among people in the community are small business owners,” Phetteplace said. “Customers who have a relationship with a business trust the business and get a lot of information through them.”

Main Street Alliance has about 600 members around Wisconsin, and participants in the campaign to promote voter registration and voting Tuesday come from across the state, he said. 

Odd Duck Instagram.
Odd Duck restaurant owner Melissa Buchholz posted a video Tuesday on Instagram, encouraging small business owners and their employees to register to vote. (Screenshot | Instagram)

The organization’s activists took the message to social media with campaigns on Twitter, Facebook and other panels. On Instagram, Melissa Buccholz, co-owner of the Milwaukee restaurant Odd Duck, posted a short, whimsical video talking up voter registration.

Buccholz’s video tells people about using myvote.wi.gov to register or to confirm their registration is up to date, and suggests small business owners encourage their employees to register as well. For employees who move around a lot, an updated pay stub with their current address can provide the necessary proof of residence, she notes. 

The registration drive itself isn’t about promoting candidates. “We want our members, whether Democratic, Republican or independent, to vote — it’s just an effort to increase voting overall,” said Phetteplace. 

But Main Street Alliance does have a policy perspective, which the organization makes clear. 

Phetteplace said that over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, “it’s been a very challenging two and a half years” for small business owners. Main Street Alliance includes members who have long been politically engaged as well as others who “are getting politically engaged for the first time,” he added.

The organization advocates reducing corporate concentration of power, which it views as a detriment to small businesses’ growth and development. It calls for expanding capital access for small business owners; enacting measures to provide child care assistance, universal health care and paid family and medical leave; and a fairer tax structure “that ensures we have the revenue needed for robust public investments,” the organization’s voting tool kit states.

“Small business owners are not a monolith,” Phetteplace said. “There’s this idea that all small businesses care about is cutting taxes.”

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Erik Gunn
Erik Gunn

Deputy Editor Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, health policy and related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary. An East Coast native, he previously covered labor for The Milwaukee Journal after reporting for newspapers in upstate New York and northern Illinois. He's a graduate of Beloit College (English Comp.) and the Columbia School of Journalism. Off hours he is the Examiner's resident Springsteen and Jackson Browne fanboy and model railroad nerd.

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