For Immediate Release
Congressional Candidate Taps AJ Resident to Coordinate Nationwide Phone Bank
Apache Junction, AZ – Heading into the final phase of the campaign, upstart progressive Democratic Congressional candidate Mikel Weisser has called on Apache Junction activist, Barbara Njos, to coordinate his national phone bank program. Weisser, the Democratic populist Kingman area activist recently earned an endorsement from the Progressive Democrats of America (commonly referred to as PDA) for his challenge in Arizona’s 4th Congressional seat.
It was an honor uncommon for a tiny grassroots campaign such as Weisser’s and it came with a huge challenge when it came to creating an outreach program for a district of 700,000 people spread over seven counties and forty thousand square miles. “It’s Yuma to Utah, Parker to Payson, the central highlands and all the area around Phoenix where the people aren’t,” Weisser laughs. With major cities in the district, such as Bullhead City and Florence being as much as 300 miles apart, the logistics of effectively reaching all the corners of the district required a phone calling operations of epic scale.
Enter PDA’s phone-banking dynamo, Apache Junction’s own Barbara Njos (pronounced “Naws”). A longtime local activist and leader in the national organization of PDA, Barbara has logged in thousands of calls over the years. Working not only for PDA and the state party, but Njos also is a leader in the Apache Junction’s contingent of the Pinal County Democratic Party and has made phone calls for every one of those groups. “Phone banking is a key part of any political campaign,” Njos explained, “It gets the message out directly to voters. It connects you to people.”
A member of the Arizona Democratic Party’s executive board, Njos has been in the leadership of many of the state’s party’s progressive groups over the past two decades including Citizens for a Better Arizona, the End the War Coalition, Progressive Democrats of America, United for Change, Habitat for Humanity, and the international women’s peace & economic justice activist group Code Pink. “Mikel and I first met in 2007 in DC at a Code Pink protest against the Iraq War. Since that first meeting we have become good friends. We share values that support the middle class and want life liberty and the pursuit of happiness to actually be something our country aspires to once more.”
Weisser was thrilled to get the chance to develop his relationship with Njos. “Barb is a mentor and a hero to me and a generation of AZ activists. PDA is the national leader of the progressive movement and I have been a proud member,willing to come the 400 mile round trip to join their events; but I never expected to rise to a position of leadership, much less being an endorsed candidate.” When Weisser originally started developing his 2014 campaign, Njos provided a base in the Apache Junction end of the district. With a budget that was a fraction of a typical congressional campaign, the PDA endorsement came as a blessing and a challenge. “PDA was willing to use their resources to help us create massive phone bank, as big as we wanted; but it was up to us to run it. Thank god for Barbara.”
Juggling her various phone commitments along w her other activist work, has been rewarding for Barb. “Every time I connect to someone who may not have been in agreement with me but we can reach one, it’s a victory. I learn a lot.” With volunteers scattered from Oregon to Florida, many who will never meet each other, the logistics are sometimes hard to work out, but Njos appreciates the challenge. “Leading the phone banking for Mikel has allowed me to take his message to more people and give them the opportunity to understand his work can help all Arizonans."
This round of phone banking may end the night of the election, but the Mikel Weisser campaign has already committed to a run for the 2016 cycle. “I may not be the guy who dethrones Gosar, but I am not stopping till he is out of office.” Njos has also committed to the challenge for the foreseeable future. “We need to return our country to the vision that the founding fathers had.”
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