COPA hosts Buffy Wicks before midterm election

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Special To / The Advocate

By Jackson Stephens, Staff Writer

Campaigning for a seat in the California Assembly, along with guiding students toward becoming politically active in the community was explained during a campus meet and greet with Assembly candidate Buffy Wicks on Oct. 5
The event, hosted by the Community Organizing and Political Action (COPA) club, was held when the largest collection of people was on campus — between 1-2 p.m.
Students representing a diverse group of majors ranging from business, political science and psychology filled GE-111 to hear the candidate vying to represent District 15 in the Assembly.
“This was a great opportunity to ask about campaigning in an environment that is less intimidating for students and the candidate than it would be in a big auditorium,” COPA club faculty adviser Vanna Gonzales said.
As a Democratic newcomer, Wicks is running for office in the Nov. 6 election for District 15, which includes Richmond, Berkeley and parts of Oakland.
Previously, Wicks served as a senior staff member of President Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns and is seen by some as the architect of his grass-roots campaign strategy that earned wins in both of those elections.
The meet and greet format was chosen so the student populace could learn about the election and the campaign process on a personal level.
Candidates are prohibited from speaking to classes directly.
The club provided a neutral space where the candidate could impart her experience and advice to those looking to become more politically involved.
She said her decision to run for public office came after Donald Trump won the presidential election in 2016.
She said students who want to get involved in politics should understand the issues that are important to them. Several that inspired her entrance into politics are healthcare reform, education and labor issues.
The transition from managing a campaign, to running as a candidate herself, has brought on a new perspective as she defines her principles.
She said she must now support her own views and claims as opposed to promoting or defending those of others. Building networks and fostering relationships are other components Wicks collected through volunteering on a local campaign as a way to gain experience and connections.
An opportunity for students to become actively involved in the political process is by participating in Wicks’ campaign through her fellowship for students project.
There are currently 20 volunteers and applications are still available.
Wicks said to join a campaign as early as possible.
“The candidate who works the hardest typically wins,” she said.
Wicks accepted the invitation to come to Contra Costa College because her first campaign experience came while she attended Sierra College and was inspired to volunteer for a local district candidate.
She said if students ever get the opportunity to work on a campaign in a swing state, like Iowa, to take it.
Alexander-Griffin heard about the meet and greet through a mass email distributed by Gonzales but says he has been following Wicks campaign.
He said it was insightful to hear from and talk with a candidate on campus.