Twenty-one Democratic candidates and campaign teams from all over the state of Utah converged on the house of Draper resident La Vonne Maloney Wednesday afternoon for a chance to network, meet local voters and raise money.
The candidates, comprised of Democrats running for offices ranging from U.S. Senator and Congressman to Mayor, blanketed Maloney’s yard and garden with tables, tents and innumerable campaign signs.
Among these candidates were notables such as Jim Matheson, Scott Howell, Jay Seegmiller and Peter Cooke, all in attendance because of Maloney’s efforts to support her local politicians.
As recently as a year ago, Maloney had no idea she would become so involved. She confessed that her involvement was limited to yelling at the TV during elections. In January 2012, however, she began seeking out those who shared her political views. During the primaries, she hosted “primary watch parties.” While visiting President Obama’s website, she discovered that people could create and post an event. At that time, Maloney decided she needed to get involved to not only help Democrats in Utah, but ultimately support the Obama campaign. As a result, she organized a “Meet the Candidate Event” despite having never attended one herself.
The event took a couple of months to organize, yet the result far exceeded her expectations. What began with a few candidates soon grew to 21, with some candidates calling only days before the event asking to participate. Maloney openly welcomed them to her home.
Maloney described the event as “one-stop shopping:” a chance for voters to meet a significant number of Democratic candidates close to home in a more social and relaxing enviroment. Similarly, the candidates and their campaign teams hoped the social and relaxing environment, complete with plenty of shade, a garden path and refreshments, would also help their messages hit close to home.
Although Maloney was happy with the event’s success, saying it was good to be involved, she also admitted it would take more than just her Meet the Candidate Event.
“What we need,” she said,”are people talking to people. We need people knocking on doors.”
Present among the candidates and campaign teams were also several BYU alumni, including the former president of BYU’s Democrats Gary Ashcroft, and one current student, Alejandro Puy.
Puy, a senior from Argentina majoring in political science, volunteers his time with Jim Bradley, an incumbent on the Salt Lake County Council running for re-election. When asked why he chose to volunteer, Puy said, “I love politics. The least I can do is get involved.” He also believes that Jim Bradley is a geniune person who has done so much for the community, especially Utah farmers. “People like him need our help,” Puy added.