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Votes

Volunteers Play Campaign Role

Phone canvassing and sign distribution part of their job description.

They make phone calls. They knock on doors. They put up signs and they take down signs. None of them get paid, but don’t ask them to stop what they’re doing. They are the group of people who volunteer to work on local and presidential campaigns.

“My most important role as a volunteer to Lisa Marie Cheney is to raise money. Any challenger against an incumbent and especially an entrenched incumbent like [U.S. Rep. James] Moran is an underdog is so many ways, most especially in raising money for the campaign. A challenger needs money to get the message and name ID out. Without that, you're toast,” said La Donna Curzon, volunteer with Cheney for Congress.

On the other side, Ginny Peters has been volunteering for the Democratic party since 1965. Currently the chair of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, she has filled almost every other position prior to this, including precinct captain, vice-chair of the committee and Mount Vernon District chair.

“None of our people get paid,” Peters said. “The most important thing they do is to identify voters and get them to the polls.”

Peters said that they have a huge list at campaign headquarters, and when people call for rides to the polls, whoever is closest picks them up.

“We are encouraging the elderly to vote early,” said Peters, who is working on getting them to vote as absentee voters so they don’t have to wait in line.

Peters was part of a group of 30 or so volunteers gathered for a rally last Saturday at the Mount Vernon Government Center. Moran met them there and said, “Every election is important, but this one is even more so. Are we going to look back and say, did we do enough? Or are we going to think, ‘Maybe if I had knocked on a few more doors, it would have made a difference.’ This [presidential] election is razor-thin — it’s about taking America back and giving it to the people. The issues are profoundly important and every vote matters.”

Moran’s pep talk was given to the volunteers who would spend that day knocking on doors and distributing yard signs. Scott Surovell, co-chair of the Mount Vernon District Democratic Committee, said that they gave out 150 yard signs.

JOHN I. MORTON is another long-time volunteer for the Democratic committee, and said, “I volunteer because I am a Democrat and I like the candidates. Our most important role is to get out the word and put up signs.”

Alexander Edelstein was there as a new volunteer, and said, “I can’t see why anybody would vote for Bush. He hasn’t helped the economy; he rushed to war; endangered the environment; is against the minimum wage; and is not articulate.”

There were also several young Democrats from West Potomac. Alexander Arnold is their president and said that they have about 50 members. He was at Saturday’s rally with Kesha Shalaginov and Will Jernigan.

“Most students have not been involved before, but a lot turned out this year. It’s an outlet for teens because we can’t vote,” said Alexander, whose group has been at all the West Potomac football games. They have been doing canvassing and phone banking, and said that they would do some fund-raisers after the election.

“It’s been a great group and we’ve done so many great things,” he said.

“I heard they were doing this [the rally] and wanted to come out and support it,” Shalaginov said.

AT CHENEY HEADQUARTERS in old town, Republican volunteers were just as busy. A group of students from Bishop Ireton spent Saturday morning knocking on doors and distributing information. Bishop Ireton student Brandi Wease was helping out at headquarters, along with Mario Mirarchi, Tim Chirdon, Taryn Shekitka and Jonathan Mark.

“I’m doing whatever needs to be done,” Mirarchi said,

Chirdon echoed those sentiments by saying, “I try to help out wherever I can.”

Shekitka is serving as the campaign’s volunteer coordinator and said that she has had a history of campaigning since fourth grade.

“I make sure that events are staffed and that we get out as much information. We have over 200 volunteers and quite a few of them come back day after day. We’re using them where they’re best suited,” said Shekitka.

Mark is a Democrat who is working for Cheney. He said that he has always voted as a Democrat, but said, “I’m very disturbed by the inability [of Moran] to take action. I think Lisa is wonderful-charming, intelligent woman, middle of the road. I do what the other volunteers do — go to events, distribute flyers, take notes at debates and post on my Web site.”