The UConn College Democrats have been quiet on the campaign trail during the November elections in Mansfield, but that has not stopped the chapter’s president from getting involved this fall.
Brianna DeVivo, a fifth-semester political science major and president of the UConn College Democrats, participated in a phone bank Sunday night with the Mansfield Democratic Town Committee at the law offices of Kahan, Kerensky & Capossela on Professional Park Road.
DeVivo sent out an email to members of the College Democrats mailing list Friday morning inviting others to attend, but she said there were no responses.
“It’s hard to get students involved with town politics,” DeVivo said. “And even though I don’t want that to be the norm, it is. I always make sure students have an avenue to volunteer with municipal races, but that’s pretty much as far as we’ve gone.”
At the phone bank, DeVivo volunteered at the site for just under an hour, making 25 calls before having to leave.
DeVivo said in the past, UConn students have volunteered at the polls and in phone banks. She said they were especially active in last year’s local state representative and state senate races. DeVivo interned for Mae Flexer’s state senate campaign, which she said was her pathway into local politics and her involvement with the Mansfield Democratic Town Committee.
DeVivo said she plans to stand outside the polls in the morning and again in the late afternoon and early evening hours on Election Day in support of the Democratic ticket. She said she hopes members of the UConn College Democrats will join her.
DeVivo also said she plans to vote on Tuesday.
“Since I’m from Mansfield, I have a stake in this,” DeVivo said.
Although she is originally from Willimantic, DeVivo moved to Mansfield while she was in high school and attended E.O. Smith. She graduated from the school in 2013 and started at UConn later that year. Her family’s involvement in politics helped to generate her interest.
Democratic Town Committee chairwoman and town council member Toni Moran said they were “glad to have her” involved with campaign efforts.
Ben Shaiken, the vice chairman of the Democratic Town Committee and a candidate for town council, echoed the sentiment.
“We’re really lucky to have Brianna in charge of the college dems,” Shaiken said.
Shaiken graduated from UConn in 2010 and has in many ways served as a generational bridge between the older members of the Mansfield Democratic Town Committee and the younger College Democrats. He said he worked with DeVivo and the College Democrats in the 2014 election cycle when many members of the group were getting their first campaign experience.
“Most of the club was freshman or sophomore,” Shaiken said. “It’s kind of cool to watch them sort of go through and (watch) the club grow. They did great work last year, and they’ve helped us this year.”
Shaiken said he and the other Mansfield Democrats have a responsibility to engage UConn students, as they are also members of the Mansfield community whether they live on campus or commute from within the town.
“This is their government just as much as it is ours,” Shaiken said.