MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers declared from day one that he puts his money where his mouth is.
In keeping with that promise, he announced today that he’s sold the Wisconsin Governor’s Mansion and has erected a "tiny house" on the lawn of the State Capitol.
"I really don’t need more than 160 square feet, anyway," said the new governor, showing off small trailer sided with reclaimed wood from Peninsula State Park in Door County. "I plan to spend most of my time in my office working for the people of Wisconsin.
"This tiny home has a futon, a hemp-powered stove, a vacuum-packed beanbag and a solar panel recycled from old opioid bottle plastic. It’s plenty," he said. "I just wish I had a little more room for the 3,000-piece Christmas mug collection given to me by my students over the decades."
The "Executive Trailer," made by Wausau-based ECO Living Builders, is built on a 20x8.5-foot trailer. It features a loft, composting toilet, on-demand heater and a couch with pull-out bed for guests. It can be moved, but Evers said he sees no reason to use taxpayer dollars to locate it somewhere more private.
"It comfortably sleeps zero, but my wife and I will get plenty of our personal space with the double, extended lofts," he said during a tour with Madison reporters.
"It has a a little kitchen, but I do most of my cooking outdoors, grilling Sheboygan-based Johnsonville Brats -- or whatever's on sale at the Willy Street Coop -- for 99 percent of my meals," he said, extending his hand to offer reporters sausage grilled atop charcoal made from his own composted feces. They politely declined.
Evers said he purchased the tiny home for $55,000, using entirely his own teacher’s pension. Profits from the sale of the Governor’s Mansion on the eastern shore of Lake Mendota totaled $2.1 million. Evers says he'll channel those funds directly into his efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in Wisconsin.
As the 15th Wisconsin governor to live in the Classical Revival mansion, albeit briefly, some 20,000 visitors passed through its door annually. Evers says he expects as many as 50 tourists this year to visit his new home, since "it doesn’t accommodate much room for sightseeing and smells faintly of mung beans."
The previous mansion, now owned by a private citizen who wished to remain anonymous, is a three-story, 20,777-square foot home.
"That was far too much space for (my wife) Kathy and me," he said. "Do you know how much it cost to heat that place?
"I’m a teacher at heart. I don’t need much," he added. "Just maybe a gold star for sacrificing my health, marriage and hygiene for the fine state of Wisconsin."
The new tiny home is south-facing, to optimize sunlight and temperature, but does not have an air conditioning unit.
"It’s OK, in Madison it's not the heat, it's the humidity anyways."
Public watchdog groups lauded Evers’ decision to downsize, asserting that governors shouldn’t be treated like celebrities.
"The governor can live on the Capitol lawn just like the other liberal trustafarian ‘homeless’ people," said Jack Skempf, communications director of Wisconsin Goes Green PAC. "We think it’s great."
While Evers touts the amenities his tiny home offers, he says he will primarily shower in the Capitol gym.
"I plan on letting the gray water runoff from my new house soak the lawn and feed the indigenous wildflowers Kathy has planted, but there’s not much privacy for prying eyes. I can just imagine Alberta Darling peeking in through the skylight, and that’s just gross."