Congressional candidate visits campus  to promote student involvement in politics

Springfield Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan begins speaking to the crowd about why she decided to enter the political game at the “Knock Down the House” showing. The candidates featured in the film mirrored Londrigan’s own experiences, which Londrigan explained while addressing the crowd.

Congressional candidate Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, a Democrat from Springfield, discussed the importance of student voting following a screening of the documentary “Knock Down the House” in the Meridian Ballroom Tuesday.

 Londrigan is running a similar campaign to some politicians featured in the documentary. Like Amy Vilela, a candidate from the film who ran for one of Nevada’s congressional seats in 2018, Londrigan was prompted to start her campaign after receiving enormous medical bills when her child was sick. Londrigan is on her second campaign now, after losing to Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., by one percent in 2018. 

The event was co-sponsored by SIUE’s Department of Applied Health, for its message of fighting to change the healthcare system in particular. 

The documentary highlights the importance of all Americans involving themselves in politics, no matter how insignificant they may feel against the establishment. 

Londrigan echoed the messages of the film when she came out to speak, forgoing the podium to address the crowd up close. She said people involved in politics should only be defined by their values. 

“If you believe that you deserve a place in that race that is your qualification,” Londrigan said. “If you are working for it, if you are doing what needs to be done, you are qualified to be there. Do not ever – anybody – let somebody look at you and look at your resume and let that define who you are.”

The women featured in the documentary were all up against well-established politicians who had held public office continuously for years. Londrigan said she faced similar issues as them by not being taken seriously when she first stepped into politics. 

“In the beginning, people are skeptical if you stand a chance of winning. So, making sure that you know why you’re in the race, who you’re fighting for and believing in yourself is really important,” Londrigan said. 

The event organizers wanted it to be nonpartisan, or politically neutral, so Londrigan spoke more about the importance of being involved in politics in general rather than focusing on her policies. Event organizer and public health professor Nicole Klein said the message was about voting regardless of which side students are on. 

“We don’t care how they vote,” Klein said. “We just want people to be voting, to be involved in the political process and to be good citizens.”

After Londrigan left, a representative from the League of Women Voters spoke about ways to get registered to vote in the Illinois primaries and how to be informed in politics. 

Senior criminal justice major Cody Cooper, of Otterville, Illinois, said he is still deciding his political opinions and who he’s going to vote for, so the event resonated with him. 

“I believe that it’s important … because it helps students in the college population become more informed about the importance of their vote in the political system as well as the importance of the political system in itself,” Cooper said. 

Students interested in learning more about politics and their choices can contact the college democrats and republicans of SIUE through their Get Involved pages.

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