Tuesday, November 4, 2008

On the campaign trail

Sorry for the long blogging delay. Alyssa an I have been shadowing June Speakman since 8:00 this morning and haven't had a chance to log on until right now. Lets catch you up:

8:00 am June teaches her class. She is wearing red and blue, colors she says are traditional for candidates on election day. Her prediction is that democrats are going to win big tonight. In case you wondered, she had an English muffin with butter for breakfast.

9:00 She hurries to gather her things on route to the Barrington Senior Center which is a polling station. RI's Lieutenant Governor Roberts has come to campaign with Barrington democrats in order to build relationships that might help in a possible run for governor in 2012. This lasts for about an hour.

She comes across a baby and exclaims "I'm supposed to pick it up and kiss it, but I don't know..."

10:00 One of her fellow town council candidate's car broke down so June drives her home. The trip through Barrington proves the town to be the picture of a New England fall. The leaves scattered on the ground are a spectrum of reds, oranges, and yellows.

10:30 June proves she practices what she preaches by voting. She proudly displays her completed ballot. She voted the party line--no surprises there. For the next hour, as she waves a sign for a friend also running for office, she explains how she became a teacher (28 years and counting), and how she got her entrance into politics in 1998. She lost that campaign for school committee before running in 2002 for town council. She has held the seat ever since. To her delight and surprise she garnered the most votes in her 2004 bid for election.

11:30 We drive to June's house, a modest abode near the bay, where we spoke to her husband Jay. He told us that their sons, 18 and 21, both voted for the first time this year. One son was excited to be able to vote for his mother, showing off his absentee ballot to friends at school, according to June's husband. June apologized for the clutter in her house but it is nothing compared to her office at school.

12:30 June stops off at a Bristol polling place to visit with a few students from her campaigns and elections class. The students are dressed to kill, in suit pants, starched white shirts and pastel colored ties. If it weren't for the ties they would look remarkably like missionary Mormons. For her class, June requires that students spend at least 10 hours volunteering for a campaign. These students estimated their volunteering time thus far as between 18 and 25 hours and seem to love their work.

1:00 We drive to the Franklin Court polling place in Bristol where a few more students are busy holding signs and handing out fliers. A union employee from Mass. expresses his hope that ballot initiative 1 in Mass.--getting rid of the income tax--will pass. A few people wearing shirts emblazoned with cats and dogs stump for ballot initiative three in RI, which would allow for the construction of a new Bristol animal shelter. They brought four large dogs with them to the polling place, apparently hoping to for the guilt vote.

1:30 We arrive at the Performing Arts Center; or as RWU students affectionately call it, "the Barn". For the day the Barn has been turned into a polling station, supplanting classes in the building to the chagrin of performing arts faculty and staff. More of June's students are here. It seems that they are out in force. June reflects on herself as a leader, wondering out loud why it seems she always seems to be running things.

2:00 Junes sits down for a much earned rest in her office at RWU. She plants herself to grade papers for the next few hours and grab a bite to eat. She says she is tired. Only seven more hours until the polls close.

more soon.

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