To the Editor:
I am not a member of the Ward 1 democratic committee, so unfortunately I will not be able to vote in the committee’s Wednesday election to nominate a candidate for alderman. Still, I wish to express my support for Rebecca Livengood, based on personal experiences I have shared with Rebecca during my (nearly) two years here at Yale.
This past summer, Rebecca and I worked together registering voters in Washington state, through the 2004ward program. With five of our friends we founded the first voter registration office in Tacoma, Wash.; we hired, trained and managed a staff of voter registrars, who then worked alongside us “in the field,” every day; we trained two new managers to continue the drive after we left; and overall, in our time in Washington, we registered over 4,000 voters.
Rebecca was undoubtedly our leader. She was our liaison to both ACORN — the community organizing group we were working with in Seattle — as well as the larger 2004ward program. More importantly, because she started the summer with more knowledge and enthusiasm for community organizing than the rest of us, she set the tone for how we, the other six organizers, viewed the project.
More often than not, voter registration is a thankless and frustrating task. I spent my summer standing with my clipboard in front of supermarkets and department stores, hassling innocent patrons or (if the manager kicked me out) scouring parking lots to hassle wandering bystanders. I had to be annoying, all day every day — and of course, no one paid attention. But Rebecca kept me focused. She loves talking to and connecting with individuals. She truly believes that our electoral system will function best when every citizen takes part in it, and she was willing to work on a grassroots level to ensure the system improved immediately — and to argue with anyone who disagreed. In the face of daily disappointment, Rebecca kept her job in mind, and made sure we did, too. As a result, she was consistently effective at convincing the hordes of tired, busy (and now slightly-annoyed) citizens to take part in the electoral system she so passionately supports.
As alderman, Rebecca will be asked to encourage both long-time residents of New Haven and new, unacquainted Yale students to get excited about New Haven politics. This past summer, Rebecca proved beyond all doubt that she has an indispensable gift for organizing community members and encouraging others to do the same. I strongly support her as a candidate for Ward 1 alderman.
Gordon Jenkins ’07
March 21, 2005