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Student volunteering work pays off in midterm election

November 15, 2018

After joining the Phillips campaign in December of last year, Elliot Berman, sophomore, was finally able to see his hard work pay off.

The district that encompasses Lake Minnetonka felt the blue wave on Nov. 6 after Dean Phillips, the Democrat running in the Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District, soundly defeated over Republican incumbent Erik Paulsen.

Phillips seized 55.7 percent of votes, and for the first time since 1961, Democrats were able to control the seat. Many students contributed to this monumental win by participating and campaigning for their candidates throughout the 2018 midterm elections.

Involvement in politics has seen an increase at HHS. This year, students were able to sign up to become an election judge for midterms, and there were over 50 participants trained on Oct. 16.

“This presidency has really changed a lot of things for people and there has been a lot of controversial things that have happened under Trump during his presidency,” said Lili Hoschka, senior, who volunteered with the DFL, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. “I think people are more passionate about it because they notice these things are happening and want to vote against it, or vote for it.”

Students’ perspectives on politics have been impacted with the increase in engagement. After a year with the Phillips campaign, Berman has learned plenty through his experiences and connections.

“I have learned that you really have to listen, because the main part about his campaign was listening to all sides, ‘Everyone’s Invited,’ and you have to consider what someone who you disagree with thinks about situations and how it affects them and incorporate it into legislation that you can make to benefit everybody,” Berman said.

This year, the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) club has increased conservative representation at HHS. Though the Democratic Party was able to win control of the House, many students in this group worked with their representatives during the election.

Sam Schachtman, senior, helped campaign for Paulsen by door-knocking, phone-banking and sign-delivering. He was also the student who invited Paulsen to HHS on Oct. 25.

While volunteering, Schachtman was able to connect with many of the 3rd District’s constituents and gain insight into the complexity of electoral politics in Minnesota.

“People appreciate the face-to-face contact, not just seeing the ads on the T.V.,” Schachtman said. “A lot of people think Minnesota is straight blue, but that’s not true. It’s actually getting closer and closer as the elections go on.”

Although his candidate lost, Schachtman was ultimately able to see the Democrat’s perspective and accepted the results.

“I wasn’t thrilled with the results. However, I do think Dean is going to do a really good job and I am looking forward to him being congressman here,” Schachtman said.

For Democrats like Berman in the 3rd District and throughout the United States, watching the election was a mixture of happiness and a feeling of what to do next. But after countless hours of freezing in the cold weather of Minnesota, volunteers were able to celebrate.

“I honestly was not that surprised because I know that there was talk for months now about a blue wave happening,” Hoschka said. “I was very happy to see the results and it made me feel good about what I was doing while campaigning, because it felt like my work paid off.”

Berman was door-knocking on election night until polls closed in the evening, and afterward went to parties for Patty Acomb, Minnesota State Representative for House District 44B, and Phillips. Though unable to vote, Berman was felt he was able to make an impact on his district.

Berman, Hoschka and Schachtman all agreed that high schoolers were able to make a difference politically.

“I’ve learned how important everyone’s voice is, even if you’re a high school student you can still participate and campaign for people and it actually helps,” Hoschka said.

What happens now can impact their future, and through volunteering they are helping lead the change.

“By me being active, I can voice my opinion to older folks that do have the right to vote at the moment, and will help me secure a safer and better future for myself,” Berman said.

More than 3.3 million voters, ages 18-29 voted earlier this year, an increase of 188 percent from 2014 midterms. In the future, there is one thing that students of both parties would like to see.

“We need people to work together,” Schachtman said.

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