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Political Web Sites Drum Up Support On Both Sides Of Aisle

This story was written by Katie O'Connell, Daily Illini

While the two major party candidates for president may differ in their views, there's something similar on the right-hand side of their Web sites: an opportunity to get involved.

As the general election season gears up and homegrown campaigns recharge, volunteers say they find getting involved locally to be a rewarding experience.

"On the local level I think that those who believe in their cause, whatever that may be, find that they can really make a large impact on a local level simply by getting involved in volunteering," said Jason Barickman, chairman of the Champaign County Republican Central Committee and University alumnus.

Barickman began his political involvement in 1996 when he volunteered for then Congressman Tom Ewing. Barickman's family farmed for Ewing, making it "an easy fit" for him to begin volunteering.

Typical duties for campaign volunteers involve going door-to-door or calling voters to talk about issues, concerns and questions, as well as putting together mailers, said Eric Preston, president of the University of Illinois' College Democrats and junior in LAS.

Preston began his volunteering with Illinois state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, and is volunteering for Barack Obama's campaign now.

Preston believes the issues involved in this election should prompt students to become involved.

"From health care to education funding to the war in Iraq, every student is affected by these issues," Preston said. "And if these issues are important to them, they can make sure that their voices are heard and that their opinions will matter instead of if they sit home and don't do anything."

Preston encourages students to become involved with either College Republicans or Democrats, depending on their views, early in the fall semester. College Democrats will have a kick-off event Sept. 2 with various state and local politicians coming to speak to students.

For Republican students, Barickman suggested getting involved with University senior Frank Calabrese's campaign for state representative or University alumnus Stephanie Dold's campaign for Champaign County Board.

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