Campaigning Pays Off for Jefferson and Torres

Torres.Jefferson BANN

Back Row: Grace Rico, Anthony White, Aman Azim, Maliya Maldonado, Ciara Neyer
Middle Row: Jocilyn Koser, Cassidy Anderson, Dylan Bernola, Isha Shah, Elijah Smith, Alexis Jefferson
Front Row: Aayushi Patel, Stephanie Finsterbush, Terrance Jefferson, Angie Torres, Valerie Wilmath, Selena Stoker

 

At the Youth & Government Elections Convention held each fall, hundreds of students from all over the state gather to elect 28 leadership positions to preside over the Model Government Convention which is held in the spring. This year’s MAHS Youth and Government club felt confident that two of their members were worthy of leadership positions, so they began campaigning for Angelina Torres (’20) and Terrance Jefferson (’19).

The MAHS delegation knew both elections would be uphill battles. The MAHS club of only thirteen members was facing several much larger clubs with student counts of approximately 65 and 100. Middletown would have to work hard to secure the votes of several large delegations. Torres said the key was networking. “The power of technology allows us to spread the word a bit, but also being multi-year members, we’ve made connections with other students from other parts of the state so we reached out to them to inform them that we are running.”

Torres’ networking paid off. She ran for a Committee Chair position which leads a group of around fifteen students at the Model Government Convention. She faced thirteen other candidates who were vying for only nine chair positions. After the votes were counted, Torres placed fourth, securing her a position as a Committee Chair, but it didn’t end there. Due to some regulations that were enforced, Torres ended up in the top two spots which made her eligible for a coveted spot of Senate Committee Chair.

Terrance Jefferson faced fewer opponents but a larger battle. Jefferson and two other students were running for Gold Speaker of the House. Jefferson was backed by a delegation of thirteen, while the other two candidates were backed by delegations of approximately 65 and 100 members each. In other words, Middletown’s “David” was facing TWO Goliaths. But Jefferson, along with the support of his twelve team members, didn’t let that deter him. Middletown knew they would need the support of other large delegations so they went on the attack. One tactic was to utilize a sympathy strategy. “Prior to the convention, my sister had fallen and as a result had stitches on her face,” said Jefferson. “So she’d go up to voters and say, ‘See these stitches? Vote for my brother’ and hand them my campaign button. Whatever it takes!”

The election process for the Speaker of the House is twofold. Round one was a simple popular vote to eliminate one candidate. Jefferson survived the cut. Unfortunately, his remaining opponent was the candidate with the 100+ delegation from Hershey High School. The uphill climb got even steeper.

The second round of voting was “cinematic” as Torres described it. One by one, each delegation leader stood to announce the voting results from their school. The running totals were projected on a large screen and tallied in real-time after each school declared their votes. And in true “cinematic” style, as the final delegation leader stood to cast his school’s votes, only three votes separated Middletown and Hershey.

That final delegation was Springfield High School led by a delegation leader who had attended previous Youth and Government events with Terrance Jefferson. Springfield held 83 votes in their hand, and they were about to show their cards.

“Barto – 8.  Jefferson – 71.”

Jefferson inhaled. The Middletown team stared wide-eyed at each other. And a few seconds later, the screen flashed Terrance Jefferson’s name in neon yellow as the Youth Governor announced, “Your 2018-2019 Gold Speaker of the House is Jefferson from Middletown.” The place erupted. The Hershey delegation gasped. Thirteen Middletown voices were screaming. The underdog had become the top dog!

“Hershey has the advantage of size,” explained Torres. “So a small club running a candidate for a big position like this wasn’t expected to even have a chance of winning in the conventional way. So Hershey didn’t think they’d have to put up much of a fight.”

But they had no idea who they were up against. Torres explained Middletown’s uniqueness: “The way that the Middletown club stands out is that we’re the underdog. We’re small so we don’t have the power of numbers on our side. But we create a tight knit family unit that really helps us to connect with each other and be familiar with each other. We are unified as a singular body of students, and we work as a team. Other clubs haven’t been able to implement that.”

As Gold Speaker of the House, Terrance Jefferson will preside over 100 students from around the state at the Model Government Convention to be held in April of 2019. Jefferson summed up Middletown’s experience at the Elections Convention: “Prior to this year, MAHS has only ever had one team member win for an election in any given year. This year, we had two candidates, and we both won. Our two little vans were rockin’ as we drove away!”

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