By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
After four years under Donald Trump, Gaulien “Gee” Smith, the owner of Gee’s Clippers, is ready for a change.
“We need change that we can depend on,” Smith said. “We need to put this country back on track.”
Last week, Smith along with 60 other small business owners across Wisconsin announced their endorsement for Democratic candidate, Joe Biden. Aside from Smith, other businesses owners on the list include Yogi Blair of Yogi’s Pud’n, Lar Johnson of Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant, Natasha Dotson of Simple Steps and more.
Smith said that right now it feels like the United State is without a leader. From his response to the pandemic to his lack of denouncing racists, it’s time to get Trump out of the office, Smith said.
According to the press release, one of the reasons a lot of business owners are supporting Biden is because of his “Build Back Better” plan, which focuses on supporting small businesses and specifically, small businesses of color. Biden’s plan is to get the economy back on track by supporting working class families over Wall Street.
Smith said that Trump’s lack of communication regarding the pandemic lead to a lack of knowledge and resources. Small businesses were an afterthought, he said.
Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris are more conscious about the struggles that small businesses have faced, especially during this pandemic, Smith said.
Like many small business owners, Smith found himself struggling during the pandemic. For the first time in 25 years, Smith didn’t make a dime for three months. He’s still dealing with the aftermath.
As the owner of a barbershop, not all of barbers are employees of Gee’s Clippers, some of them are booth renters and therefore not on his payroll. This is something elected officials didn’t consider when they made the guidelines regarding the Paycheck Protection Program.
Eventually, Smith got on the phone with local elected officials to express his concerns about PPP among other issues.
“I feel it’s on their radar now,” he said.
In addition to his endorsement, Smith is committed to encouraging Milwaukee resident to register to vote and exercise their right to vote. He’s already held several voter registrations events at his barbershop and plans to hold several more.
“It’s going to take all of us who want better to do better,” Smith said. “If we are engaged and informed, we have a responsibility to talk to those who weren’t planning on going to the polls.”
In spite of the pandemic, Smith thinks that there will be high voter turnout come Election Day. People want change, he said, and those who are informed need to constantly talk and engage those who aren’t as engaged.
“I’m very optimistic about the presidency and Joe Biden winning,” Smith said.
To learn more about Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan go to joebiden.com/build-back-better/.
To register to vote, request an absentee ballot and more, go to myvote.wi.gov.