Candidates, Campaigning, and Change – MLWGS Students Go All Out!

Malina Gavris, Features Editor

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Photo: Hui Lian ('19) - Photography Editor: Spending a day volunteering for the Spanberger campaign are Adam Sachs ('19), Julia Ochsenhirt ('20), Kate Driebe ('20), Katy Bortz ('19), Katrina Hale ('19), Jill Barta ('20), and Josie Greer ('20).

As November the sixth approaches, a multitude of students at Maggie Walker are planning how they will spend their day off. Perhaps some well-earned sleep or a pleasant outing with friends. While we think about the activities that might fill up this oncoming date, it is even more important to reflect on the significance of this day. November 6th is Election Day. All of the House of Representatives’ and thirty five of the Senate’s seats will be up for grabs. Politics have become of great importance to many Americans as the polarization of our nation grows. These upcoming elections will be some of the most decisive in our country’s history and the outcome of every congressional district will count. The race between Abigail Spanberger and Dave Brat is taking place in our very own community, and so, scores of fellow students of all political persuasions have been actively participating in the campaigns for Virginia’s 7th District.

Marina Peebles (‘19) has been working hard since this summer, interning for the Democratic candidate, Abigail Spanberger. Her responsibilities include “making calls, organizing signs, canvassing, and doing Latino outreach.” When asked if she had ever met Spanberger, Peebles enthusiastically replied “YES! I have many times, and she is the most wonderful person. She remembers small details I’ve told her and will ask me about them, and really takes the time to talk to everyone in the office. She even made the interns peanut butter and pickle sandwiches once (her favorite)!” Interning for Spanberger is a great accomplishment and Peebles’ enthusiastic involvement goes to show she is not only a dutiful community member but a blossoming political activist.

Co-President of the Young Democrats, Katy Bortz (‘19) has also been aiding the Spanberger campaign. She has spent myriad hours canvassing and even invited Abigail Spanberger to meet with students at Fall Fest. “At Fall Festival, she was so approachable, which I was not expecting from someone so successful. She really made us feel like she wanted to get to know us and asked us questions about what we thought about politics, which is not something many adults do,” Bortz reflected. It is very heartening to see such an avid connection between Governor’s School kids and their government.

Supporters of Spanberger aren’t the only students who played a role in the upcoming election. Joey Mistretta (‘19) explains that his job “has been coordinating with Patrick Snow, Regional Field Director for the Brat campaign, to organize volunteers from within Maggie Walker.”  Mistretta, alongside his Co-President of the Young Republicans, Nikhil Chandravel, has focused on recruiting as many peers as possible in an effort to increase the scope of canvassing and the spread of campaign materials. Although not through volunteering, Chandravel even ran into Dave Brat once! “I’ve met him once and got a picture with him at a special event; we were at the Richmond International Airport waiting for Pence to come in on Air Force 2 for two rallies (once for Brat, the other for another rep, I don’t remember exactly who) – I got a picture with Delegate John McGuire and one of Pence, which was cool!” The Co-Presidents’ pep and passion for politics are of great inspiration to all and it’s certain that they have worked undoubtedly hard to “inspire people to do whatever they can to leave their house and vote.”

Despite differing political views, all of these students have the same unparalleled work ethic and zeal for politics that stems from understanding the utter importance of political participation. “I was 8 the first time I went canvassing for Obama with my dad.” Peebles tells me. “It’s incredibly important for students to participate – young people have one of the lowest voting rates out of any demographic, but when you get involved and learn about government and your local candidates you create habits that you carry wherever you go and wherever you live.” Voting is a great responsibility, and although most of us will not be of age, we can still participate and show support for our candidate and cause. As Mistretta poetically and precisely articulated, “In such a contested region, every vote counts, and volunteering helps make sure every American’s voice gets heard.”

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Candidates, Campaigning, and Change – MLWGS Students Go All Out!