CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE—The American Friends Service Committee’s “Governing Under the Influence” (GUI) project will be ready to greet the first presidential candidates to file for a spot on the New Hampshire Primary ballot when the Secretary of State’s filing period opens at 8 am on November 4.
The Quaker group, which for the past year has been spotlighting the harmful political influence of corporations that profit from war and prisons, will be waiting with giant banners at the front door to the State House on November 4 and 5, and again on November 12 and 13.
AFSC has permits from the Office of Administrative Services for those periods. But the organization’s volunteers and staff expect to be visible in the State House vicinity on other days as well. “Our office is right next door to the State House,” notes Arnie Alpert, the group’s Co-Director.
AFSC has taken these seven foot tall banners to candidate events and political gatherings all over the state. “We are asking all the candidates to tell us how they will forge policies based on the public interest, not the interest of corporations that profit from government contracts,” said Eric Zulaski, the group’s Grassroots Education Coordinator.
The educational project is strictly non-partisan, he emphasized.
In the past year, AFSC has conducted nearly 50 “bird dog” trainings — workshops that prepare people to ask effective questions on issues that matter to them when they get a chance to talk to candidates. So far more than 700 people have gone through the training, with 4 more workshops scheduled in the next two weeks.
“Being an active citizen is about more than voting,” said Olivia Zink, AFSC’s Grassroots Engagement Coordinator and the state’s most experienced NH Primary “bird dog” trainer. “If you’re going to talk to candidates about issues like the trillion dollar plan for a new generation of nuclear weapons or the federal budget mandate that results in tens of thousands of immigrants locked up in for-profit prisons, it’s good to be prepared.”
AFSC is also running a similar program in Iowa, where the first presidential nominating caucuses will precede the NH Primary.
AFSC’s banners will be on display in front of the State House from 8 am to 4 pm on November 4, 5, 12, and 13. They are already aware of several candidates planning to file on those days. “We’re looking forward to greeting them and discussing how to end the practice of ‘governing under the influence,’” Zulaski said.
The official candidate filing period runs from 8 am on Wednesday, November 4 to 5:00 pm on Friday, November 20. It is traditional for candidates to visit the Secretary of State’s office in person to sign up for a spot on the NH Primary ballot.
More information, including a calendar of candidate events and reports from GUI “bird dogs,” can be found at http://gui.afsc.org.