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People on the Ground: Volunteering for Presidential Campaigns in Metro Detroit

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Image credit: Eli Newman / WDET

Campaign volunteers for presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump make moves in Michigan.

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Michelle Bagley (left) and her daughter Madison (right) listen to a Clinton campaign staffer give instructions on how to canvass in Detroit, Michigan.Eli Newman / WDET
Eli Newman / WDET

Michelle Bagley (left) and her daughter Madison (right) listen to a Clinton campaign staffer give instructions on how to canvass in Detroit, Michigan.

On a Saturday afternoon at the “Hillary for America” field office in Detroit, a stack of clipboards is passed around to a group of campaign volunteers. The clipboards have a list of addresses, houses the volunteers are expected to canvass. For Michelle Bagley of Farmington Hills, it’s not her first rodeo. She helped stump for Obama in the last two elections.

When I saw the divisiveness going on, I really decided that I needed to contribute more to this campaign. I think a lot of people contributed to the Barack Obama campaigns. I mean, you saw signs everywhere. I’m just not seeing that same energy for Hillary Clinton.”

Michelle Bagley, Clinton campaign volunteer

It’s weird kind of to like ask people, ‘Do you want to vote for Hillary Clinton,’ and like ‘What side are you on?’ and asking those kind of questions,” says Madison Bagley, Michelle’s 12-year old daughter.  The Bagleys are headed to the Brightmoor neighborhood to knock on doors in an effort to rally the vote for Hillary Clinton.


Trump volunteers and supporters gather as a new campaign office opens in Clinton Township, Michigan.Courtesy of Lisa Mankiewicz
Courtesy of Lisa Mankiewicz

Trump volunteers and supporters gather as a new campaign office opens in Clinton Township, Michigan.

Later that afternoon in Clinton Township, a new campaign office is opening, but this one is for the Republican presidential candidate. “We need to get Trump elected. Period. End of story,” volunteer Joseph Lambert tells other Trump supporters, as he guides them to the free pizza and cookies available for the opening celebration. He’s focusing a lot of his time on the campaign.

Well I’m retired. I’ve got my hobbies and stuff like that or whatever to keep me busy. I’ve got grandkids. This is something that keeps me going.”

Joseph Lambert, Trump campaign volunteer

Even though he has a bad knee, Lambert says he’ll likely be going door-to-door to get out the vote for Trump.

Trump volunteer Mary Louise Stokes of Warren, Michigan.Eli Newman / WDET
Eli Newman / WDET

Trump volunteer Mary Louise Stokes of Warren, Michigan.

 The celebration starts to wind down, but there are still plenty of people coming in to get “Trump-Pence” lawn signs and registering as volunteers. Helping them out is Anne Post from Saint Claire Shores. “I’m doing data entry. Phone calls. Just basically whatever they need around the office,” says Post, who’s been volunteering for the Trump campaign five days a week. As Election Day nears, she’ll be here even more.

I’m going to be in this office every single day starting now, seven days. If the office is open, I’ll be here.”

Anne Post, Trump campaign volunteer

Post has been following Donald Trump for the last few decades. She says her family needs a future, a future that Trump has laid out. “I want my grandkids to live in a safe, secure country,” Post says. ”And pretty much every issue touches on that in some way.”


Clinton volunteer Keith Smith canvasses in Brightmoor, Detroit.Eli Newman / WDET
Eli Newman / WDET

Clinton volunteer Keith Smith canvasses in Brightmoor, Detroit.

Back in Brightmoor, the Clinton volunteers go door to door with varying degrees of success. Some residents pledge their vote to Clinton, but others in the neighborhood say they’re not voting at all. “That to me still mystifies me,” says volunteer Keith Smith who, first got involved in campaigning to get more people to register to vote. “When you find individuals who are older and still do not vote. That’s a question that I have no answer to.” Another Brightmoor resident, Frank Gondek, says he’s still undecided.

I’ll know the day of the election when I get in there. I’ll listen to all of them, and make up my mind then.”

Frank Gondek, undecided voter

Still, the Clinton volunteers make some ground. Taylor Moore is 21-years old, but forgot that she registered to vote when she was 18. She says if the canvassers hadn’t come over to remind her, she may have not showed up at the polls.

To be honest, I probably wouldn’t of because I didn’t think to find that information on where to go and vote at. Now that I know I can vote, I will definitely go out and vote.”

Taylor Moore, Brightmoor resident

Moore says now, she might even volunteer for the campaign.

Polls open at 7 A.M. Tuesday.


Eli Newman, Reporter/Producer

Eli Newman is a Reporter/Producer for 101.9 WDET, covering breaking news, politics and community affairs. His favorite Motown track is “It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops.

eli.newman@wdet.org Follow @other_eli

2016 Elections: Issues & Candidates

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