By Yuko Kurahashi
This month the 2016 Clinton-Kaine Campaign hosted the grand opening of its office headquarters out of Portage County in Kent, Ohio.
In freshly painted rooms and the lawn in front of the office campaign, volunteers and supporters engaged in conversation, reflecting the campaign slogan “Stronger Together.”
Present at the opening were Mike Kerrigan, candidate for Portage County Commissioner and Brad Cromes, candidate for Portage County Treasurer. Cromes brought his toddler son to the opening and said he would like his children to grow up in the world of positivism and hope, not of fear and hatred.
The guest speaker was Richard Schiff, known for his Emmy Award winning role as Toby Ziegler on The West Wing. His speech reflected a deep knowledge of and passion for politics, the US government, and domestic and foreign policies and history, which, as Schiff candidly stated, were acquired while he was on The West Wing.
Schiff pointed out the failure of the media in covering Clinton’s recent pneumonia; but not one journalist had praised Clinton’s dedication, commitment, and courage not to cancel her appearance at a 9/11 memorial service.
Schiff also talked about the importance of “foot soldiers” in the campaign as evident in the Obama campaign and how he was moved to see our foot soldiers at the Kent headquarters. He mentioned how low voter turnout in the 2000 election contributed to the result of the presidential election.
Born in the same year as Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, Schiff, a son of Jewish immigrants, has witnessed change, transformation, and progress in civil rights and democracy for immigrants, African Americans, women, and LGBTQ.
His talk was a powerful testimony to the progress we have made from the pre-Civil Rights era to today, and why we cannot go backwards. Schiff and other cast members of The West Wing are planning to travel to speak to people in the battleground states on behalf of Clinton. He promised to do whatever he can to help elect the most qualified person for the US president, as well as supporting other Democratic party candidates.
Office volunteers are currently recruiting volunteers for phone banking and canvassing. They encourage early voting.
Among the volunteers, Denise A. Harrison said she gives her time in order to participate in the “democratic process to choose the right candidate” and that she wants to do more than just voting.
Diane Kerr, another volunteer, works for the campaign because she “believes in Hillary Clinton.” Kerr added that “Clinton has not been treated fairly by the media.” Both Harrison and Kerr are faculty at Kent State University. Though they never tell students how to vote, they teach students the history of enfranchisement and disfranchisement of voters in relation to women and their civil rights, and the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s so that younger generations are more aware of the importance of voting as part of the democratic process in this country.
The new headquarters is located in Kent’s Portage County in its University Plaza. The event was held on Thursday, Sept. 15. Other recent events in North East Ohio include Bernie Sanders’ visits to Kent State University and Akron University during his campaign trail on Sept. 17.