Local Obama volunteers dial up voters

Nine supporters spend Saturdays on the phone at the local community center, extolling their candidate’s virtues.

January 24, 2008|By Mary O’Keefe

The political season is in full swing and many registered voters in the area have received phones calls asking them to support one presidential candidate or another. What many locals may not realize is that those phone calls are being made by their neighbors and friends.

“I think he is overall the best hope for change in our country,” said Nancy Samuels, a La Cañada resident who joined other Barack Obama supporters last Saturday at the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge.

Nine Obama supporters gather at the center every Saturday afternoon from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. to work for their candidate in the tradition of a grass roots campaign.


Samuels said she had worked for the Democratic Party in the past but never a specific candidate during the primaries.

“I haven’t felt this strong about a candidate in many years,” she said.

Samuels said she wanted her daughter to see that her efforts matched her convictions. “My daughter will be voting this year for the first time.”

The volunteers spent time working on the campaign computer program and learning what to say when they made their calls.

“For the first call you make, you want to get an answering machine,” quipped Alex Kipling, another La Cañada resident.

He made the first call of the day as the volunteers listened. During the call Kipling introduced himself and explained that he was working on behalf of Obama. He briefly gave some information about the candidate and how the resident could get more information by visiting the candidate’s website or calling the Los Angeles headquarters.

The volunteers were being led by Vickere Murphy, with the help of Dave Nelson. Although the two La Crescenta residents seemed like campaign veterans, this type of campaign work was new to them. Nelson joked that he was the first one to raise his hand at one of the meetings he attended and is now entrenched in the workings of the campaign.

“I said, please be our data guy,” Murphy said. “He has been a lifesaver.”

Nelson said that he felt Obama’s message was inspirational in the Kennedy tradition and that he has energized the party. He had traveled to Iowa for the caucus.

“The caucus brought out people who were most interested [in the presidential candidates] and were well informed,” Nelson said.

Murphy said that she too was caught up in the Obama wave and disagrees with critics who say he does not lay out any of his positions on the issues.

“A lot of people will say that he makes great speeches but he has not laid out his policies,” Murphy said.

“But all you have to do is go to the website and it’s all there. If you, for example, want to see his health policy you can read it at his site.”

She added the site has a condensed version and if they want a fully detailed version it too can be downloaded.

“It’s all specifically spelled out on the website,” she said.

The volunteers range in ages from high school students like Scott McLauglin, who will be voting for the first time, to Larry Stammer, a retired man who has voted in many elections over the years.

All nine members share a common view that Obama is the man for the job, and that working on the campaign is not only an exercise of their rights as an American but also their duty.

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