Democratic candidate Dan Koh ’03 is running to represent the Third District of Massachusetts in the United States Congress. A former Chief of Staff to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Koh officially opened his campaign office on Saturday.
“I was thrilled to see so many friends, family, and supporters at the official launch of our campaign headquarters in Andover. Andover is where I first developed my passion for public service. This is where I grew up, it’s where I went to school, and I could not be more excited to open up our first campaign office here,” wrote Koh in an email sent by Communications Director Justin Curtis to The Phillipian.
Koh, a descendant of Korean and Lebanese immigrants, is running his campaign on a five-point platform, which includes support for universal healthcare coverage, debt-free education, clean energy, gender equality, and combating the opioid epidemic.
Koh wrote, “My family immigrated to the United States from Korea and Lebanon. They became millworkers in Lawrence, members of the military, and doctors. They lived the American Dream, and as a result, their Korean-Lebanese grandson has the chance to be the congressman from his hometown.”
“But, right now, the American Dream is under attack by a President who doesn’t understand what makes this country great. Based off my conversations with voters throughout the district, it’s clear that people are fed up with this administration’s recklessness. We need real, forward-looking solutions to make sure that the American Dream is alive for generations to come. That’s why I will advance a progressive agenda,” continued Koh.
A group of students from the PA Democrats Club (PA Dems) attended the campaign office opening. The office is located on 28 Chestnut Street in Andover.
Miriam Feldman ’18, co-president of PA Dems, described how the club connected with Koh’s campaign.
“Dan Koh is an alum of [Andover] himself, and he has a couple of people working on his campaign who are from the school. They reached out to us when his campaign offices in downtown Andover were opening to see if there were any people from Andover who wanted to go down and attend the event,” said Feldman.
As part of the partnership with Koh’s campaign, Andover students were not only able to experience a campaign launch but were also exposed to the issues that lie at the heart of Koh’s platform. These issues resonated with attendee Junah Jang ’20, a member of PA Dems.
“I know that he’s very in support of universal healthcare, raising the minimum wage, and is pretty pro-jobs,” said Jang.
Jang also noted that the event was high in energy and that the Koh campaign was able to transfer this energy to her and to other Andover students.
“It was really energetic. I think [Koh]’s sort of an interesting case because he’s the front-runner for the race right now, so there was a lot of energy and a lot of people there. His staff is all very young, and they want to build a network of people here at Andover,” said Jang.
When asked about his experience on the campaign trail so far, Koh wrote, “President Trump has tried to implement one disastrous policy after another, so it’s inspiring to have met so many people who are standing up and fighting back.”
Koh’s campaign is offering opportunities for Andover students to engage with the campaign. Feldman outlined an intern program suggested by the campaign to meet this end.
“[The campaign has] reached out for any students who are interested in becoming fellows or interns with the campaign. Hopefully, we can get some people on campus involved in that as the spring term progresses or even over the summer as we get closer to the September primary,” said Feldman.
Feldman also mentioned an initiative to bring Koh and other people associated with the campaign to campus to inform and further promote active political participation.
“We are also hoping to bring Dan and some other people from his campaign up to campus to speak so that kids at Andover can become more acquainted both with his issues and with political processes as a whole,” said Feldman.
According to Koh, several students interested in helping the campaign have already involved themselves through Koh’s Campaign Fellowship program.
Koh wrote, “If you’re interested in helping out, please contact email@example.com, or stop by our Andover office at 28 Chestnut St. We would love to meet you!”
Jang spoke of a possible “speed-dating” style event on campus to raise Andover students’ awareness of those who represent or are vying to represent them.
“We’re trying to build a speed dating event with the candidates so students at Andover are more exposed to who’s running to represent them. We want to bring people here so that they can talk about their own policies, and so we’re not just subject to one particular viewpoint,” said Jang.
These initiatives are rooted in what Feldman believes to be the importance of political awareness, especially at a local level. She expressed her hope that Andover students step out of their “bubble” for the sake of the broader political environment.
“It’s important to step outside the ‘Andover bubble’ and look at your local politics wherever you are, whether that’s Massachusetts or in your hometown because I think a lot of our energy is spent on very Andover-focused issues. In times like these, it is important to look at ways that you can get involved in the wider community,” said Feldman.