Presidential campaign gains momentum

Presidential campaign staffers working in the North Country are: front row, from left: Katherine Smalley, John Delaney campaign; David McDowell, Kirsten Gillibrand campaign; Jeff Tyler, Kamala Harris campaign; (middle row) Hannah Shepard, Elizabeth Warren campaign; Claire Cummings, Bernie Sanders campaign; a staffer for Beto O'Rourke's campaign; Jessica Xieng, O'Rourke campaign; (back row) George Scarola, Jay Inslee campaign; Rylie Cooper, Gillibrand campaign; Leah Garrett, Amy Klobuchar campaign; John Burns, Joe Biden campaign; Deidre Schardine, Warren campaign; and Donna Godin, Tulsi Gabbard campaign. (COURTESY PHOTO)

LANCASTER — Although the 2020 Presidential Primary is six months away, energetic campaign organizers are increasingly focused on the North Country. They are contacting prospective voters, either by phone or knocking on doors, recruiting volunteers among local activists and facilitating events working with the local Democratic committees. Several campaigns have already dispatched organizers to live and work in Coos County, while others have plans to hire Coos County organizers in the near future.

The first local campaign organizer, Deidre Schardine, arrived two months ago. She speaks excitedly about growing up on a farm in Cleves, Ohio, and how happy she is being assigned to Coos County by the Elizabeth Warren campaign. She has already traveled all over the county and says that the best parts of her job are “having a shared purpose with people who welcome me into their communities and building relationships.”

Next to arrive was John Burns from the Joe Biden campaign. He hails from rural downstate Illinois and is responsible for organizing in both Coos and Northern Grafton Counties. He also requested a rural assignment and states that the North Country reminds him of his home." He is passionate about rural areas because he believes that “rural America is the heart and soul of our country.”

The Jay Inslee campaign sent George Scarola to New Hampshire from his home in Seattle, Wash., where he previously campaigned for the governor. Scarola is organizing voters in central and northern parts of New Hampshire and finds that “being in New Hampshire for a presidential primary is fascinating and important.” He has been pleased by the extraordinarily high level of participation of activists who are involved in a variety of issues.

Rylie Cooper brings extensive experience organizing in rural areas as she covers Concord to the Canadian border for the Kirsten Gillibrand campaign. She is excited to have additional organizers to come on board in August so she can focus more intensely on the North Country. Cooper says she “begged for Coos County because I love rural areas and know how important they are” and I “wanted to feel at home, since I come from rural Pennsylvania.”

Claire Cummings, from the Bernie Sanders campaign, has returned to Coos County as an organizer, after having extensively volunteered for the senator four years ago. She lives just across the border in Norway, Maine, and really enjoys rural organizing. Cummings says that she “likes taking the time to listen to rural voices” and have “the privilege to hear people’s stories and bring them back to the campaign so they are heard.”

Although the Tulsi Gabbard campaign has not hired an organizer for Coos County, they have recruited Donna Godin of Gorham as a volunteer who has offered herself “as a local go-to for the campaign if people want to donate, signup, sign wave or volunteer in any way.”

Scott Merrick, the state campaign director for the Amy Klobuchar campaign, is from Lancaster. He is a strong campaign representative and advocate for the North Country.

Voters in Coos County can expect other presidential campaigns to send organizers in the next few months, recognizing that every vote in the New Hampshire primary will be important given the extensive field of presidential candidates.

The Kilkenny Democratic Committee will meet on Monday, Aug. 19, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 113 Main St., Lancaster, at 6:30 p.m. Many of the Coos County organizers will be attending the meeting. The committee welcomes anyone who would like to meet and talk with an organizer to join them.

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