By Jeffrey Massin, Activist, Advocacy Intern, and Student at California State University, Northridge
As a student at California State University, Northridge, I chose to intern with the American Heart Association and support their advocacy efforts by volunteering to collect signatures to qualify the Tobacco Tax Initiative for the upcoming Presidential Ballot in November. If passed, the $2 Tobacco Tax would fund cessation programs, tobacco use prevention in schools, research on tobacco-related illnesses, and expand Medi-Cal for Californians trapped in the coverage gap. Here's a link to the campaign.
I partnered with a group of about 10-15 dedicated student volunteer based in Greater Los Angeles between the months of February through May to collect signatures and raise awareness about the ballot initiative. Many of us were new to the process and the issue, but we owned it and worked diligently to secure signatures for the campaign.
My first week I secured almost 80 signatures! Unfortunately, the weeks preceding turned to have lower turnout rates. While it was challenging to match my first weeks return, being out in the field regularly helped me appreciate how diverse my community is.
As a volunteer new to this process, collecting signatures for a ballot initiative was challenging as the biggest obstacle I faced was the backlash of the public. I was turned down repeatedly, but it was rewarding meeting fellow community members who are passionate about the cause and those interactions made the hard work worthwhile.
This experience taught me to understand the unique perspectives that come from living in such a diverse state. I learned that as a public health advocate, a community’s opinion is very strong and definitely has its presence known in the voting polls. But, their diversity also brings communities together for a cause and it was rewarding working on such an impactful campaign. One positive highlight includes having the opportunity to participate in a 5k at Dodger Stadium where I encountered many folks from different walks of life that were passionate about health that enabled my partner and I collect a combined 100+ signatures.
Overall, the Save Lives Campaign collected over 1 million signatures. The measure is undergoing verification of signatures by the State Controller’s office. Pictured are just a few of the highly engaged representatives of the Save Lives Coalition that participated in the delivery of the million signatures.
If you haven’t yet, please contact your local Government Relations staff, listed below, to get involved with this campaign locally! If you don’t reside in the areas covered by one of the staff listed below, please feel free to contact Josh Brown, Grassroots Director.
Brittni Chicuata, Greater Bay Area
Claudia Goytia, Greater Los Angeles
Erica Phung, San Diego