As I finish up with my eighth week at my internship, I am overwhelmingly tired but I also feel that I have gained a lot of valuable experience.
In the last week we have significantly shifted our focus on to voter contact as the time for polling draws near. Voter contact is primarily phone banking and canvassing. While these are not some of my favorite tasks, they are certainly necessary for any successful campaign. Both of these tasks can be very trying but also very interesting. The point is to reach as many voters in the district as possible to spread the word about Neil. Because this includes such a wide range of people- often times people are not happy to be getting a call/knock on their door. Whether it is because they have different political views or perhaps they are cooking dinner or maybe they just don’t like to be bothered- the fact of the matter is that sometimes it can be a little rough. On the other side of the spectrum, you get to talk some very enthusiastic people who give you hope and some people who are just downright entertaining. That being said, voter contact has been eating up most of my time this week.
In addition to this, there were two unique events this week. The first was a local fundraiser/reception that we had for Neil. This ended up being an awesome night to meet with some supporters, enjoy local food and music, and become acquainted with an old building that is the cultural center of Jim Thorpe: the Mauch Chunk Opera House.
The second event was less easy going and much more tense. One of the big issues in one of the nearby towns is the threat of a new wind turbine problem. Although alternative energy is awesome, the proposed project is quite close to residential areas, there are zoning ordinances coming into play, and people are quite worried about what this actually means for the area. In the last few months there have been a series of public hearings held at a local fire house in order for both the wind turbine executives and the locals to get their sides heard. Neil has been interested in this development since the beginning and has made a point of either attending himself or having an intern attend because of the level of importance this issue has with the people from this area. I was quite shocked myself to pull into the parking lot to find the place packed with a line headed out the door when I arrived 15 minutes earlier. To my own estimate, over 200 people showed up to stay in the loop about what is happening with the turbine project. It was a very interesting thing for me to see so many people fired up enough to spend an entire evening sitting in silence to listen to expert testimonies of the effects of wind turbines. After seeing what exactly was going on firsthand, I can understand why it is so important for Neil to maintain his presence in order to stay updated and sensitive to the general vibe from the area.
Despite the fact that my time here is winding down- it is by no means an indication of how busy we are. A campaign is constantly running. There really is no time to stop and smell the roses when you have the pressure of an election getting ever-closer. With that being said, this has been an excellent exercise in coping with long hours and hard work and I think it will help me in the long-run.