There are only two weeks left until the election! As an
all-volunteer organization, RPA has never been able to match the deep
pockets of Chevron, the California Apartment Association, Big Soda and
others. Our power comes from time, energy, commitment and
contributions of ordinary folks who have a progressive vision of our
city. One of these stalwart volunteers is Michael Beer, a former
teacher who has been canvassing on the weekends. Read on, and be
When did you first start canvassing?
When I was young, I had a summer job
selling magazines door to door. I wasn’t great at it because I didn’t
believe in what I was selling.
What is it like canvassing in Richmond?
I like canvassing in Richmond. Almost
all the voters are Democrats so already we have a certain level of
agreement. People are pleased you think they are important enough to
volunteer your time to talk with them.
Do you feel you’ve made a difference?
Oh, yes. The most important thing is
that people understand that I am volunteer and believe in what I am
doing. If people have questions I can't answer I promise to get
someone from the campaign to contact them. I know I have gained votes
for candidates and measures, and in a small town like Richmond,
elections can be won or lost by as little as 300 votes. I make sure
they know their polling place and try to impress on them the
importance of their going on November 8.
How was it the first time you canvassed?
I still get nervous before I knock on
my first door, but after a while, I relax and just enjoy the day. My
goal is to finish my walk sheet if possible, so I try to be succinct
and confident and not sound like a robot. Also, canvassing is a great
opportunity to see parts of Richmond I don’t know, like May Valley or
How do you feel about the RPA’s campaign strategy?
Over the years, the Progressive
Alliance captains have gotten quite proficient at organizing the
materials we use. You get excellent campaign literature. You get a
map and the names and addresses of voters. Often you get notes that
are helpful. You don’t want to visit an address if they are already
supporters. And they only ask for a few hours.
Do you have advice that you could pass along to new
When I come to a door, I want to relax
the person opening it. I usually wear a shirt or hat covered with
campaign buttons and have my clip board and pen prominent. This way I
don’t look intimidating. I notice if someone’s working on the house or
if there are shoes on the porch. Because I’m working on my garden, I
might ask about the name of a plant in their yard. Because I like
children, if there’s a child hiding, I might ask what school they
attend, or their name. I always let them know that I’m a
I have a special thing I do. I take a
wad of Post-Its with me on which I’ve handwritten, “Sorry I missed
you. Your neighbor on S. 58th” or “A volunteer” and sign my
first name. If I come back, they will remember me. In the end, I offer
them the opportunity to do what I’m doing, to phone bank, or plant a
lawn sign. By canvassing door to door, we have been able to create a
lot of positive change. I feel obliged to do what I can to keep
Inspired by Michael's
true tale of making a difference through canvassing?
We need all hands on deck
during the last
weekends before the election! Come out to canvass on Saturdays from 10
am – 2 pm and Sundays 12 pm – 4 pm. This Saturday, we will have
special guest speaker Councilmember and former Mayor Gayle McLaughlin
to cheer us on and send us on our way. Meet at the Bobby Bowens
Progressive Center (2540 Macdonald); there will be food, drink, and
Finally, if you can't make weekends, you can help phone bank
for Measure L every Monday and Thursday from 6 - 8pm; bring your phone
and a tablet or laptop if you have one.