It was about meeting the community at their own doorstep.
And, offering them pizza.
Waynesboro’s Jennifer Lewis, the Democratic nominee for the 20th House District, discussed her campaign’s passion for reaching people personally at an intimate joint rally with Annette Hyde, the Democratic nominee for the 24th Senate District, at the Waynesboro Democratic Committee Office at the Willow Oak Plaza on Friday evening.
As the candidates chatted over pizza with locals and campaign volunteers, Lewis stressed the importance of relationships with voters and their common desire for change.
“We spend a lot of time canvassing,” Lewis said. “I try to go out everyday canvassing door-to-door.”
Lewis said she visits houses of republicans and democrats alike. In her experience, even when voters disagree, they are appreciative of the personal gesture.
“People are just so appreciate that someone comes to their door and wants to hear from them,” Lewis said. “I try to remind people that even if we don’t agree on everything, there is something we can agree on.”
Her efforts to build rapport across party-lines were met with success even just last night, according to Lewis.
While canvassing door-to-door in Stuarts Draft, Lewis said she encountered a gentleman who initially began the conversation stating, “I do not agree with anything that you stand for.”
Still, Lewis pressed on, believing personal connection could find commonality despite party partisanship.
“I asked him, ‘Well, what do you care about’” Lewis said. “I’ve found it opens a dialogue if you are willing to listen to people.”
By the close of the conversation, Lewis said they ended up shaking hands and he agreed to vote for her.
“It was amazing,” she said.
It is experiences like this that remind Lewis “this is why” even after long days working as a full-time mental health worker. She also said her work in mental health continues to be a connection between her and voters who have “all had their lives touched by mental illness in some way.”
Joining Lewis at the rally was Hyde, who said her campaign is focusing on healthcare, education and internet access for rural communities.
Hyde said healthcare, in particular, has been an emphasis for voters.
“People should not have to decide between putting food on their table and taking their child or themselves to the doctor,” Hyde said.
Lewis’ policies also include Medicare and Medicaid expansion, opposing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and rural broadband expansion.
Asked what narratives and changes the 20th District citizens have had in common, she it is simply that “things have got to change.”
“People feel that they have been left behind,” Lewis said. “They work hard, but they are not moving hard. Their lives are stagnant or even getting worse.”
“This change,” Lewis added, “is about reminding people that we, the voters, have the control and can make the government any way we want it.”