Managing Executive Editor
As the field of 2020 Presidential candidates continues to grow, Keene State College has begun to rack up a number of visits from hopeful politicians.
On Tuesday, April 24, Democratic candidate Kamala Harris held a town hall event in the Flag Room of the Student Center. With doors opening to the public at 10:15 a.m. people began lining up at around 9 a.m. Several members of the KSC Democrats club volunteered to help out at the event. Junior John Callahan said, “I’ve been a member of the Democrats club on campus since my freshman year. One thing we try to do in the club is promote every candidate. We try to make sure students are informed about candidates and events and policies. We try not to focus on just helping one candidate, but all the candidates.”
Callahan said his role in the event was to assist in maintaining order in the Student Center. “Right now I’m making sure people are able to sign in, answer questions, make sure the line is moving correctly and just helping to keep house,” Callahan said.
Due to the small capacity of the Flag Room and the high demand of entrance, spectators were directed into overflow rooms located in other sections of the Student Center.
“So many of us over the last couple years have been throwing things at the TV,” Harris began while addressing the overflow crowd. Harris spoke to the crowd about her thoughts on the current administration and the need for change.
After the brief speech, Harris moved into the Flag Room to speak to those waiting in there. Harris based her speech around the concept of being truthful and transparent by repeating the phase, “Let’s speak truth,” throughout the hour long event.
Harris’s topics ranged from issues of hate, inequality, educations, climate change, healthcare and impeachment of President Donald Trump. During her town hall meeting, Harris didn’t not identify any specific policies she hopes to carry out if elected President in 2020 with the exception of a reform on gun control. Harris said, if elected, she would give Congress one hundred 100 days to draft gun control legislation. If no actions were taken, Harris said she would take matters into her own hands by drafting three executive orders that she believes will fix the issue of guns in America. “We’re not waiting for another tragedy. We have seen the worst of tragedies. We’re not waiting on good ideas. We have them,” Harris said.
Monadnock High School Senior Talee Messenger, identified Harris’s plan for gun reform as her favorite policy. Messenger said she admires Harris’s drive to achieve her goals if elected President. “She’s a very strong woman. She is very sure of her stance on her issues. She’s not afraid to voice her mind,” Messenger said.
While Messenger is not yet in college, she said she likes that Harris is making appearances on campuses. “I think it’s the best way to reach out to students, especially millennials. We have a big voice and it’s very important for candidates to reach out to the younger generations,” Messenger said
Monadnock region resident of 40 years Andi Johnson also expressed the importance of candidates such as Harris being on college campuses. “We really need college students to vote this time, come out and work for the candidates and be active. Democracy is [in]at peril right now and we need everyone on board to help,” Johnson said. “Please come out and vote. Do your thing. The country needs you.”
Johnson said she has been a fan of Harris for awhile and she agrees with all her policies. “She is a full Democrat and all her policies indicate that. She has been a strong voice on the senate floor and I think she will be great in the White House. I’m very excited by the prospect of that. I also think she is one of the more exciting candidates this time. I’m just tired of crusty old white men running.”
Peterborough resident Susan Schauer said she is also a supporter of Harris for President. “I really love Kamala. She’s smart. I haven’t heard any position she has stated on that I don’t actually support. I think she can run against Donald Trump. I just like her and I would love to see a woman president,” Schauer said.
Schauer said she first started to support Harris after seeing her in the Brett Kavanaugh hearing. “One thing that turned me on to her before I knew she was going to run for president was watching her question Kavanaugh. I love her directness and I just found myself saying to people, ‘I would love to see her run for President.’ She’s piercing and she is grounded in all the right places,” Schauer said.
While most of the people in attendance were there to show their support for Harris, some were there to voice other opinions. Anti-war progressive Joseph Mirzoeff walked around the outside of the event carrying a sign that said, “Lock Her Up!”
Mirzoeff said he was not there to protest Harris specifically but to state his opinion that all politicians need to be held accountable for their acts.
“We need accountability for our politicians. When they commit a crimes, we got to hold them to it. We need better behavior than that, but surely if they commit crimes we need to hold them accountable,” Mirzoeff said.
In September of 2016, Mirzoeff wrote The Keene Sentinel a Letter to the Editor stating what he believes were the criminal actions of Hillary Clinton and how she robbed Bernie Sanders of the Democratic nomination.
“Bernie is a progressive but Kamala is not. She may say she is but she’s not. Her and Cory and Buttigieg; they are like Hillary,” Mirzoeff said.
Although many of those that attended were already fans of Harris, some went to learn how she felt about certain policies. Maine resident Ken Quinn works for an organization that wants states to propose a term limit amendment on Congress. Quinn said he has traveled to different locations to ask Presidential candidates their thoughts on this piece of legislation. “I know President Obama was in support of that. He thought term limits were useful and helped introduce new ideas. A few of the candidates so far have said they do, so I’m trying to find out where Senator Harris stands,” Quinn said.
While Quinn said he wasn’t extremely familiar with her policies, he was interested to see where Harris stood on the term limits amendment. “I hope she supports this amendment idea. It’s to introduce new people with new ideas in Congress, which I think is something we desperately need. It will also give voters more options,” Quinn said.
Harris answered questions from the audience ranging from inquires about specific policies to her hobbies to a question asked by a young girl in the front row, “Are you going to beat Donald Trump?”
Harris concluded with a message of unity, saying, “The vast majority of us have more in common than what separates us.”
Erin McNemar can be contacted at