By KENDRA SITTON | Downtown & Uptown News
Assembly District 78 candidate Sarah Davis has converted her campaign volunteers from doing door-to-door outreach to checking in with isolated community members via phone. Campaigns across the county have made similar moves and now the San Diego Democratic Party has followed suit by organizing phone banks to do wellness checks. This is madepossible using voter information the campaigns already have on hand that is typically used to raise support ahead of an election.
“Our biggest drive on this is just making personal contact and reaching out to folks because we know that isolation is incredibly challenging and really difficult for people,” said Davis in a phone interview.
In addition to checking in, the campaign compiled a list of resources so volunteers can connect residents with relief programs if they mention any specific issues. When they began piloting the effort, the campaign was able to use 17 volunteers to make 200 calls just within the first day of the launch, according to campaign volunteer Danny Avitia.
They initially called seniors but have since expanded to all age groups in the community, although they still have an emphasis on reaching seniors. According to Avitia and Davis, the top issues they are hearing about are stir craziness, food insecurity, issues paying rent and healthcare.
The move away from door-to-door canvassing ahead of November is significant for Davis because that is how the campaign built grassroots support to get her through the primary. Prevailing in November will be difficult as she faces Council member Chris Ward, who is more well-known in the community because of his role in city government.
Despite the mechanics of her campaign changing, Davis said the priorities remain the same: universal single-payer healthcare, affordable housing and climate justice.
“This crisis has made it abundantly clear that housing, health care that is tied to employers and tied to private insurance companies is dangerous all on its own. It’s something that I am absolutely passionate about changing,” she said.
She believes that this crisis also demonstrates that health care systems and production can be changed quickly.
Meanwhile, Davis described e her current circumstances as being an adjustment period, both politically, professionally, and personally. Her family’s furniture store has completely shut down. She is sheltering in place with her daughter and her partner’s two kids while switching to distance learning. To have the phone interview, she said she was cloistered in what she said was not quite a closet with the door closed.
Davis hopes the people thrust into childcare and elder care roles will realize how essential these workers are in the future.
“We’re seeing exactly how important that is to our economy and how vital all those workers are,” Davis said.
“I personally am one of 3 million plus, now more, [unemployed]. I applied for Medi-Cal for myself, so I’m right there with everyone else,” she said. “All the stuff that folks are facing across our county, across our district, I definitely have going on at home as well.”
— Kendra Sitton can be reached at Kendra@sdnews.com.