Students from Assistant Professor of Government Ángel Saavedra Cisneros’s Campaigns and Elections class hosted local representatives this week to discuss their positions in anticipation of the midterm elections.
On Monday, the class hosted Town Councilor Dan Ankeles. Ankeles is running for Maine House District 100, which covers from the Androscoggin River to the ocean. He spoke about his role on the town council and experience campaigning for the Maine House of Representatives.
Additionally, State Representative Poppy Arford spoke during Wednesday’s class about her role in state government and upcoming reelection campaign, as well as working on local issues with her constituents in mind.
“I really value my relationship with students, whether it’s Brunswick High School students or any students I represent,” Arford said in an interview with the Orient. “I always learn a lot from young people, and I’m so excited when young people engage in any governmental process.”
The goal of the forum was to provide an opportunity for students in the class and broader government department to connect with local representatives and learn more about their varying roles.
“We tend to focus at the national or statewide level, and seldom do we get the chance to learn from an actual candidate,” Cisneros said. “Here, we get to actually hear from people who are representing our community. So, that’s what I hope to get out of it: for students to, one, know who is representing them, and then two, [know] what it is that [their representatives] do.”
While the class focuses on federal level theories when it comes to campaigning and representation, Cisneros found it important to highlight the voice of local representatives who are dealing with the issues of representing more localized constituencies.
The class is also structured to focus on campaigns when the election season is in full swing, so much of the conversation focused on campaigning strategies for local candidates. A primary aspect of that was talking about “clean elections” which is something relatively unique to Maine.
To be a clean election candidate, a candidate has to raise $5 or more in individual contributions from 60 people in their district to then access an amount of state-distributed funds to be used for their campaign. Through this process, Maine hopes to combat large donor influence through campaign financing at a micro-level.
“You also have to sign a statement and campaign ethics statement, and I took all of that very seriously. I take running an ethical campaign very seriously and [think it’s] very important,” Arford said.
Students in the class, many of whom were out-of-state or international, were eager to talk to Maine representatives about local politics and campaigning functions, considering their knowledge from political theory.
“I was mostly interested in political theory [of campaigns], but this is definitely very interesting, [to see] the tangible, day-to-day of how campaigning and that side of politics works,” Kavi Sarna ’25 said.
The class has also been involved in spearheading other election related initiatives on campus including creating a voter guide for upcoming Maine elections, volunteering at local polls on election day and registering students at the local high school to vote.