“Had to try:” At halfway point, recall effort against Mayor Barrett short of needed signatures

MILWAUKEE -- With the recall effort against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett at its halfway mark, the man leading the push said Sunday, August 6th that his group has collected 10,000 signatures -- far short of the necessary number.

Al Jansen

"I don't know. I can't say," Al Jansen said, when asked for the number of signatures collected. "I know that we're beyond 10,000."

Jansen has previously declined interview requests about his recall effort, which has moved forward with little fanfare. The movement, for example, lacks a website.

Jansen's organization needs more than 51,000 signatures in a 60-day period, which started July 7th, in order to trigger a recall election.

The 55-year-old former Milwaukee fire captain has a beef with Barrett over the downtown streetcar project, the city's response to violent crime, and possible lead exposure from water pipes.

Al Jansen

He said he's enlisted at least 150 volunteers, counting the Original Black Panthers of Milwaukee among them. Jansen said his group has collected signatures at local events, including the South Shore Frolics festival.

"It's time, and it's time to do one of two things, from my perspective: It's time to get involved and try to make a difference, or it's time to move away from here," Jansen said.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

Jodie Tabak, a Barrett spokeswoman, declined comment Sunday.

In previous interviews, the mayor -- who challenged Gov. Scott Walker in a recall election five years ago -- said he takes the effort seriously.

"Nobody loves a recall, but I embrace the opportunity to talk about how hard we've been working to put Milwaukeeans to work," Barrett said July 7th, the day Jansen filed his paperwork.

Previous recall drives have included a social media presence and a more robust physical presence, but Jansen characterized his effort as "low-key."

Effort to recall Mayor Tom Barrett

"I know that social media's huge, but through social media, I can't get an electronic signature to count. I have to have a signature from someone," he said.

To critics who say his goal is unrealistic, Jansen said whether his effort succeeds or fails will be up to Milwaukee residents.

"We're going to be here until September 6th, and if we drop our signatures, if there's not enough, I'll shake the mayor`s hand and say 'I tried, and I'm sorry to have bothered you, because I had to try,'" Jansen said.