Week 5: Over Hill and Under Hill

Guess who is turning 150 this year? Lehighton! Lehighton is the location of Neil’s campaign office and the largest town in the district. This year is the town’s 150th anniversary and they are celebrating. A huge part of the town has been coming out for the Sesquicentennial festivities and it is on our radar in the office as well.

Last Saturday, the weeklong festivities began. On Sunday, I spent a large chunk of the day talking with people at a tent that we have as part of the celebration. Another large chunk of the day I spent with Neil as he shook hands at a kid’s coaster race. Although this might sound like a trivial event, hundreds of people lined one steep street as the kids raced their hand-made coasters and the ambulance stood by.

While everyone was watching, Neil was able to shake literally hundred of hands. One of the first people we ran into was a former candidate for state representative in Carbon County. When he spoke with Neil, he excitedly offered to introduce him to some people he knew at the race. Following his offer, he introduced us to several hundred people. So how is it possible that someone who knows several hundred random people at a community event lost the race for state representative?

I asked Neil just how many votes we were fighting for and he said that it would come down to a few thousand votes. To all of those people who think that their vote doesn’t count: it really does. It might seem obsolete in national elections, but state and local elections are so much more relevant to our every day lives and it really does come down to a few votes.

For this reason, events like the Sesquicentennial celebration are crucial. One job that I do daily is look for events in the county. I read the paper, check the local calendars online, join groups on Facebook, and more. With all of these events I then figure out what is important for Neil to go to in order to meet more voters. Although it is hard to track the people we talk to the way that we can with other types of outreach, it is important for Neil to get out there and get recognized.

This part of my job can be a little stressful because I do not want to miss important events or tell Neil he should go to things that might end up being a waste of time. In this county, it feels like every location is about 20 minutes from the next. Although each destination is divided by beautiful scenery and lots of hills, 20 minutes here and there in the car is not an efficient use of time.

Along with a familiarization of the area’s local firehouses and parks, I have become very familiar with the boundaries of the district. It is important that events are not only in the county, but also in our voting district. One area within the county was put into a different district a few years back in order to help the incumbent by eliminating some democratic voters from the district. This example of gerrymandering is just another big reason why it is time for a change and therefore these local events are important!

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