I have always been a member of the Republican party for as long as I could remember. Coming into high school four years ago was the perfect time for me to step out of the sidelines and be an important player for the party. As a result, I found many ways to volunteer and stay active within the party, starting here locally in Westfield.
For four years, the Young Republicans Club at Westfield High School went in and out of existence. The club was there when I entered WHS as a freshman, but there weren’t many meetings. We met to elect the mayor and councilmen the following year, and did so successfully, but the momentum died down after the elections. We never had as large a turnout for the few meetings following the election.
Ever since, I was determined to lead the club. Different teacher advisors had different schedules, some of which I could not accommodate. Other teachers were simply too booked. Sometimes, I had a teacher, but my friends were too busy with other activities. The Young Republicans club remained in purgatory during my junior year.
Since this year is my last year at the high school, I decided to step up my game and reach out to local politicians to finally get the Young Republicans Club started. It was imperative to start organizing early. I used summer vacation to visit the Westfield offices of Senator Tom Kean and Representative Leonard Lance. The workers were more than eager to provide us with points of contact.
I got in contact with Mr. Doug Stokes, who is running for the fourth ward’s town council seat. With myriad volunteer opportunities to share, a chaotic GOP primary battle to discuss, and a ready teacher advisor to lead, the Young Republicans club is set for the year. I have been working hard in it ever since I revived it.
The club met several times since the beginning of the school year, but our most successful event was Back to School night. I set up a table and handed out information on local candidates. When my friend arrived to help run the table, we enthusiastically promoted absentee ballots to the parents. Over half of our wad of absentee ballots found their way to the voting parents. Based on the positive feedback and smiles, the parents enjoyed learning about those who represent the local government. Additionally, we even registered a few new voters in our senior class and consequently helped to continue our representative democracy.
Outside of school, I have been working with local candidates. I am spending most of my time walking around and meeting voters with Mr. Stokes. There is a surprisingly lot one can learn about politics this way. We can spend more than 10 minutes at one house talking to one voter, and all of it is valuable to Mr. Stokes, who records every concern. He is willing to answer any question from any voter, showing the care that people like him would dedicate to making Westfield an even better town.
The town appreciates this as well; so many thank him for the visit. Most importantly, Mr. Stokes, who is not even on the council, yet always attends town meetings and addresses these concerns. He can do so much more when elected.
It is worth noting that town representatives are not paid. People like Mr. Stokes who spend long hours meeting voters, addressing their concerns, and attending meetings do so only to give back to this great town. For that reason, I am eager to cast my first ever vote for local candidates like Mr. Stokes on November 3.