The deciding day draws near.
In just six days, we will go to the polls to choose a president, of course. But there’s so much more on the ballot. Missourians will pick a U.S. senator, U.S. House representatives, a governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and vote on ballot issues affecting cigarette taxes and judges. Kansans will choose county commissioners and state lawmakers who will shape the Legislature and make decisions on taxes, school funding, and how we choose judges, among other heavyweight concerns.
This week, Ink brings you a look back at two Missouri young people trying to make a difference in presidential politics.
Whatever your politics, you have to hand it to the young men and women who make up the foot armies of presidential campaign staffs and volunteers. While pundits like to decry the lack of political participation by younger age groups, these young people cannot be accused to apathy. Though they work for opposing candidates, they have three things in common: they all love barbeque, they all spent the long, hot summer toiling in phone banks, voter registration drives and door-to-door canvasses, and are now working 16-hour days leading up to the election.
Name: Andrew Felz
Position: Regional Political Director (responsible for 18 counties in KC and NW Missouri) for Missouri Victory for Romney/Ryan
Hours: 100 hours/week
Hometown: Independence, MO
HS: St. Mary’s in Independence
College: Rockhurst University
First job: Semester internship in D.C. in the Senate Republican Conference
Career so far: “ I worked on the Jim Talent re-election campaign in 2006 before going to D.C. and working for five years at the NFIB (National Federation of Independent Businesses), a lobbying group that tries to get conditions favorable for businesses on healthcare, taxes and regulations. I started as staff assistant, and am now legislative services representative, accompanying lobbyists to the Hill, doing research, writing, and working with NFIB members and state constituents.”
What drew you to politics and this campaign? “ In my work at NFIB I came to really feel that regulatory stuff for businesses in general is something we need to work on, to ease regulations for businesses, because we’re a very overregulated society. We need to let our entrepreneurs grow.”
What family thinks: “ I come from a bipartisan family, conservative Democrats as well as Republicans. They’re all politically involved.”
What friends think: “ Rockhurst was pretty liberal and my views were different from my friends’. I couldn’t see my way to Kerry; I was a Bush guy.”
Dream job: “I definitely see a national-level politics career in my future. A life in politics comes from who you meet and being in the right place at the right time and luck. We’ll see what happens.”
The future: “ Hopefully going back to work with the Romney administration to advance the goals and ideas that Romney and Ryan have set out. I really believe in this ticket.”
Elected office? “ I’m a behind the scenes kind of guy. I like to get the guy elected; I’m not the guy in the spotlight.”
Favorite movies: “ I have to say “Top Gun.” And I love Will Ferrell. I’m excited to see “The Campaign,” but haven’t had time.”
Favorite music: “I’m a country guy — Kenny Chesney always puts you in a good mood.”
Favorite books: “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” “Decision Points” by George W. Bush
Hobbies: “ Swimming, running, staying in shape — I wake up at 5:30 to go to the pool. It’s grueling sometimes but it’s important to stay fit and in shape. My family’s a very active family.”
Run any marathons? “ I’ve completed two half marathons, in D.C. and Las Vegas. Don’t remember the times.”
Favorite KC meal: “ Jack Stack’s BBQ. My mom ships it to me in D.C. for my birthday every year.”
Favorite date in KC: “I haven’t dated in KC for a while but I have to say the Plaza. You can walk around and window shop and there are lots of great restaurants and bars. I’m not the fanciest guy. I like a good dive bar, like Tomfooleries — is that still there?”
Name: Eric Todder
Position: “Core Team Member of Obama for America Team Waldo/Swope, based out of the office at Gregory and Troost. We’re targeting Obama supporters to make sure they go vote. I’ve also been a waiter at Westport Café & Bar since it opened two and a half years ago. And I’m an actor and dancer.”
Work hours: “I volunteer about 30 hours a week.”
Hometown: Witchita, Kan.
HS: Wichita Heights
College: University of Kansas
First job: “I was a dancer in “Beauty and the Beast” at Lawrence Community Theater when I was 18. Then I started auditioning and kept getting roles.”
Career so far: “ I’ve done lots of theater, including Steve Eubank’s “Reefer Madness” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman” at MET. This past spring I acted in “The Far Flung Star” by Steve Balderson. We filmed in L.A. and Hong Kong, which was amazing.”
What drew you to politics and this campaign? “My mom was a single mom, and all my life I watched her struggle and work hard. When she divorced she actually teamed up with another woman who became a single mom around the same time and we lived in a Brady Bunch situation: two moms and nine kids. The two moms paid bills together and put each other through school and both became teachers. That was how they made it through. I know firsthand that what happens in government makes all the difference in families like ours.”
What family thinks: “My mom is a Democrat and very supportive. My dad started out Democrat and has since moved to the right — too much Rush Limbaugh.”
What friends think: “ They’re all for it, of course. My roommate, Jordan, is a volunteer too.”
Dream job: “I’m always torn. I absolutely love the theater, but what I’ve been doing with the campaign — if I could be paid doing that I’d be really happy. I studied international relations in college and always wanted to work in embassies. Foreign service would be my dream job.”
The future: “I intend to move to L.A. When I was out there shooting “Far Flung Star” I met so many people. Nobody was from L.A. Everyone was from the Midwest. I’m going to go out there, get a job, find an apartment, and start auditioning.”
Elected office? “Absolutely. I’ve met Claire McCaskill and Emmanuel Cleaver. I’d like to do what they do.”
Heroes: “My mother, of course. Ted Kennedy. Barack Obama. Elizabeth Warren. Rachel Maddow.”
Religion: “ I grew up Mormon; didn’t drink caffeine or alcohol until I was 21. Then in 2008 the Mormon church spent $20 million supporting Proposition 8 in California, which seemed to me both illegal and a wrongful use of people’s tithes that were supposed to go to the poor and for education and all the wonderful things they used to do with their money instead of fighting gay people. I asked my local church leaders if they supported this, and I was formally excommunicated.”
Favorite movie: “ Evita” — the perfect blend of drama and politics, and she was born on my birthday.”
Favorite music: “ Broadway musicals — “Evita,” “The Color Purple,” and “Spring Awakening.”
Favorite books: “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President,” “True Compass” (the Ted Kennedy autobiography), and “Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power” by Rachel Maddow.
Hobbies: Politics and theate
Run any marathons? “ I only run when I’m chased.”
Favorite KC meal: “I’m going to sound like a Republican, but Jack Stack’s BBQ. My parents lived in Grandview and we always had it growing up.”
Favorite date in KC: “My boyfriend Tom and I started at Broadway Café. Then we walked down to the Plaza and got burgers at Blanc. We’ve been together now two and a half years. So that’s a good first date.”