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Students mobilize support for candidates

Anna Boarini | Tuesday, November 6, 2012


For students interested in running for public office, working on any level of campaign this election season was valuable experience. 

Notre Dame senior Trent Spoolstra has served on 2nd Congressional District Democratic candidate Brendan Mullen’s campaign since the fall of 2010. Spoolstra started out as a volunteer and is now an intern. 

Spoolstra said he decided to stay in Mishawaka this summer to work on the campaign, while taking classes at Notre Dame. 

“I began working with the campaign earlier this summer … with most of our College [Democrats] back home for the summer, I thought it would be good to keep up the presence of ND College Dems helping out the Mullen campaign,” he said. “I got involved, because I really enjoy politics and I wanted to be involved with the greater South Bend political community.  I live off-campus in Mishawaka and because of that, I not only consider myself to be a member of the Notre Dame community, but also a member of the Greater South Bend community.”

Part of Spoolstra’s job with the campaign is to go door to door, asking for votes. 

“My job as an intern was to make phone calls to voters and persuade them to vote for Mr. Mullen and I also did door-to-door campaigning where I was able to meet and connect with voters face-to-face,” he said. 

The Mullen campaign is not the first campaign on which Spoolstra has worked. 

“[I] helped out a little bit with Joe Donnelly’s re-election campaign back in 2010 and I worked regularly for Mike Hamann’s campaign for South Bend Mayor earlier last year,” he said. 

Saint Mary’s senior London Lamar has been a congressional volunteer, but the first campaign she has assisted on is President Barack Obama’s reelection bid. 

“My involvement in the Obama campaign hit its peak when I became President of Young Democrats [at Saint Mary’s this semester]. Before school started, I started brainstorming ways I could promote Obama’s agenda to the campus,” she said. 

Lamar and other Saint Mary’s students have been working to help register voters, a goal of Obama’s campaign. 

“I thought it would be a great idea to register SMC students to vote … Through the club’s voter registration campaign we held in September, we registered about 80 students to vote,” she said. “That was a substantial number given that the school is so small.” 

While registering voters, the College Democrats under Lamar’s leadership have also held phone banks, calling voters in Ohio on Obama’s behalf. 

Melody Alvarado, a 2012 Saint Mary’s graduate and full-time Obama campaign volunteer got Lamar and the other students involved with the phone bank project. 

“We have hosted three phone banks for two hours this semester [and] have made over 600 calls,” she said. “As you know, Ohio is an important swing state.”