Democratic headquarters open, both parties plan for student participation

Analicia Haynes, Managing Editor

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As November elections loom just around the corner, the Coles County Democrats and Republicans plan to focus their attention on registering students to vote and encouraging them to get involved.

John Clough, the chairman for the Coles County Republicans, and Paul Wieck, the chairman for the Coles County Democrats, both said Eastern students could have a powerful voice in the elections this year and want to help them get involved.

Wieck said the student vote can make a huge difference and can even change the course of an election.

“What students don’t know is if enough (students) register to vote then they can sway an election,” Clough said. “Granted, they would have to vote one way, but (students) don’t realize how much political power they have, and if they harness (that power), it would be unreal.”

After the Democrats opened their headquarters at 615 Monroe Ave. on Thursday, Wieck said the first initiative is to register students to vote who live off-campus.

“We’re counting on student government, the Pan-Hellenic Council and other organizations to register students on campus, but we want to focus on those living off-campus,” Wieck said.

Wieck said they plan to campaign in targeted areas at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

They will go door-to-door and start at Campus Pointe, located on the east side of Wal-Mart.

“This is the time to step up to the plate,” Wieck said. “If we aren’t participating, we don’t have a democracy.”

Wieck said he encourages students to get involved by doing more than just posting on Facebook.

Instead, Wieck said for students to change minds and hearts, they need to participate in the elections by going door-to-door and campaigning.

While the Democrats held the grand opening of their office, the Coles County Republicans are still in the process of deciding where they will host their headquarters.

Clough said the group had a building secured earlier in the year, but the owner decided to sell it.

“She is a friend of mine, and said it was an offer she couldn’t refuse, so we understood,” Clough said. “It’s business.”

Clough, who became the Republican chair in April, said the Coles County Republicans are currently working on a backup plan, which includes having their headquarters opened by Oct. 1.

Clough said just because the Republican Party has a majority of the county’s support does not mean that they are not in a time crunch to open up their office.

“Just because you enjoy a majority doesn’t mean you should be arrogant and ignore your constituents,” Clough said.

Clough said there will be no grand opening, but the group will let everyone know where the headquarters is on Facebook or The Coles County Republicans’ website.

Clough said he encourages student involvement in the elections and misses having the same amount of enthusiasm students bring to the table.

“(The students) are really an asset,” Clough said. “We already have a lot of good young people involved.”

Both headquarters will serve as a resource for party information and literature.

If anyone wants to volunteer, they can contact the Coles County Democrats at http://colescountydemocrats.com or their Facebook page and the Coles County republicans at their Facebook page.

The Republican’s website is currently under construction, Clough said.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].