Second year runs local city council member’s campaign

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Photo: Jonathon Skavroneck
Photo: Jonathon Skavroneck
Photo: Jonathon Skavroneck

Flyering and 60-hour work weeks are not considered enticements in any career. For a volunteer position, they would typically be deterrents. Yet Jonathon Skavroneck describes his role with enthusiasm.

For three months, he worked as a deputy campaign manager for Benny Zhang, candidate for the Williamsburg City Council. Despite boasting a political resume to rival most graduates, Skavroneck is in a second year IR student freshly arrived in St Andrews following one year at the College of William & Mary in Virginia.

In his first year, he was approached with the opportunity to join Zhang’s campaign as a recruiter focused entirely on convincing people to register to vote. Skavroneck devoted himself to the task and within a few weeks had managed to register more individuals than the rest of his team combined.

This efficiency resulted in a promotion. In keeping with the young spirit of the 22-year-old Zhang, Skavroneck assumed the position of deputy campaign manager. His 14-hour workdays consisted of strategy meetings, cold calls and debate preparation alongside his position as a student.

When recounting the experience, Skavroneck emphasises the grassroots nature of the campaign. As students, the team could easily have been overwhelmed by the sudden responsibility being placed on their shoulders.

No one was standing over their shoulders offering advice; everything, from organising bus routes to charting economic growth, would come from the minds of Zhang, Skavroneck and the rest of the group.

As voting day approached, incentives became a priority: banners, doughnuts, crisps and guacamole were all included in the budget as a means of physically drawing people to the polls.

Skavroneck says the adrenaline felt in these moments came from the knowledge that every vote marked the culmination of his candidate’s efforts. When Zhang emerged victorious, it was a triumph for every volunteer who had knocked on doors and appeared at rallies alongside him.

Skavroneck admits that he would not consider going into politics as a candidate; however, he leaves the door open for behind-the-scenes work. The sabbatical race and elections for the local Fife Council are among the opportunities due to arise during his time at St Andrews.

Enterprising and driven, Skavroneck will surely make the most of them.

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