Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Valentine's Day Bingo
February 24, 2024

Students create experience on campaigns

Ryan+Silvola%2FObserver+Staff%0AIntern+Coordinator+Margaret+Nunne+and+sophomore+Caitlin+Slone+work+Monday+for+Neil+Anderson%2C+running+for+the+Illinois+State+Senate+position.+Slone%2C+along+with+other+Augustana+students%2C+do+door-to-door+campaigning+and+data+entry+for+Anderson.
Ryan Silvola/Observer Staff Intern Coordinator Margaret Nunne and sophomore Caitlin Slone work Monday for Neil Anderson, running for the Illinois State Senate position. Slone, along with other Augustana students, do door-to-door campaigning and data entry for Anderson.

Ryan Silvola/Observer Staff Intern Coordinator Margaret Nunne and sophomore Caitlin Slone work Monday for Neil Anderson, running for the Illinois State Senate position. Slone, along with other Augustana students, do door-to-door campaigning and data entry for Anderson.
Intern Coordinator Margaret Nunne and sophomore Caitlin Slone work Monday for Neil Anderson, running for the Illinois State Senate position. Slone, along with other Augustana students, do door-to-door campaigning and data entry for Anderson.
Photo by Ryan Silvola.

For junior Sophie Bennett and sophomore Caitlin Slone, working with Neil Anderson on the Illinois State Senate campaign has been a changing experience in their political and personal life.
Bennett and Slone, along with other Augustana students, work closely with Anderson, his family and other employees on the campaign, averaging 20 hours each week.
Bennett, a communication studies major, said working on the campaign has taught her that candidates shouldn’t necessarily be judged by their political party association.
“I think now, meeting the candidate and actually having some experience, I would want to know what they’re supporting now,” said Bennett. “I’m having a really easy time supporting (Anderson) because he is a really genuinely awesome person.”
Slone agrees political candidates are not always confined to their party affiliation. She said in terms of party lines, Anderson is not a typical Republican.
“He’s registered independent and he’s a union fireman, so not what you would typically think of as a Republican,” said Slone, an undeclared major. “So the moral of the story is you should know the candidate before you start working for them or vote for them.”
Slone added that working on the campaign has given her experience into how political campaigns are run.
“I got to help shoot a commercial and working on other things besides door knocking,” said Slone. “So it’s interesting to get to see all the different facets of the campaign.”
Bennett and Slone mostly do door-knocking while working on the campaign, along with data entry, similar to junior Dorothy Mutum, who works with Jim Wozniak, running for the Republican nomination for Illinois District 71 representative.
Mutum, a psychology major, also helps plan events and fundraise, as well as make phone calls to promote Wozniak.
While she wants to do counseling as a career after graduation, Mutum said the campaign has had its benefits.
“It’s more of a local race, so you actually get to know the guy you’re working for.”
Like Bennett and Slone, Mutum said she also looks at what political candidates stand for.
“I’m not necessarily Republican but I vote based on the person who is running and their stances,” said Mutum.
Mutum began working on Wozniak’s campaign in March, when he came to her door that month.
“He was going door-to-door, petitioning to be on the ballot, and I was just like, “Oh, do you have any positions open on your campaign?” said Mutum.
Slone began working for Anderson after she saw a Facebook post of a job offering, then recruiting friends, including Bennett.
This is the first campaign Bennett has worked on; Slone helped on a previous campaign. Junior John Lechuga, though, who worked over the summer with Bruce Rauner, running for Illinois governor, has been working on campaigns since he was 12 years-old.
Lechuga’s uncle, Jesus Garcia, was an Illinois state senator, and Lechuga helped alongside him with phone banking, staying involved with political campaigns ever since.
Lechuga, a political science and finance double major, interned last year for U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, running for U.S. Senate. While he said Braley and Rauner ran their campaigns similarly, Lechuga began working for Rauner later in the campaign period when his campaign was more organized.
“I’ve always interned for the Republican party, so I wanted to see the big difference,” said Lechuga.
Lechuga helped coordinate parades in the downtown Chicago headquarters as well as volunteer coordinating across Illinois and helping decide where to open offices. He said most campaigns are run the same.
“Just actually reaching the voters with phone banking, that’s really important in most of the races, and actually canvasing and talking to people,” said Lechuga. “You’re just trying to make sure you get your message across.”
Mutum said the internship with Wozniak has created a broader experience into politics.
“I wouldn’t want to run for anything, but I like helping,” said Mutum. “It’s something I think is important, but I don’t want to do it as a career.”
Bennett agreed that working for Anderson has changed her mind about future career options, too.
“I just needed a job,” said Bennett. “But I like it so much that I’m looking into possible doing that as a career.”
Slone has always been interested in politics, especially after helping on a political campaign for a family friend, U.S. Rep. Adam Kinsinger, R-Ill. She said the experience of working on political campaigns was meant to just get her feet wet and see if she liked the career, although other benefits came along the way.
“At least for me, it’s been helpful actually having something to do so I have to do my homework and prioritize that over doing other things,” said Slone. “So it’s helped me with time management, I think.”
While Lechuga hopes to work for a business or finance-related internship within the next year, he said working for Rauner and Braley has been beneficial, especially working in Iowa for Braley.
“That’s one of the nice things about Augie,” said Lechuga. “Iowa is next door and they really want you to work in campaigns because it’s the first state you need to win. It’s probably the most important one.”
Lechuga said he might return to working for political campaigns in 2016, if he could intern for Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., or other presidential elections candidates.

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Students create experience on campaigns