State seat challengers adapt to COVID-19 challenges

Published 7:01 am Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Republican candidates Patricia Mueller and Gene Dornink have come up with creative new ways to connect with area voters in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two campaigns have found ways to be visible across the district and to  hear from families, businesses, and community leaders, including joining car cruises, a fire department cruise of rural communities,  a Fourth of July Car Parade of Austin and another of the whole county and numerous events around the area.

“All of the normal ways I was looking forward to connecting to communities, such as the fair, community days, and parades were cancelled this year,” said Mueller, who is challenging long-time District 27B incumbent Jeanne Poppe.

“We tried to be everywhere and to show people that we supported them in these difficult times,” Dornink said. Dornink is challenging Senate District 27’s Dan Sparks.

Some of these efforts included helping out with Salvation Army food distribution, packing and delivering food for the Senior Center, making cards and attending several events for those in nursing homes, helping at Ruby’s Pantry and getting out to eat across the county in local restaurants among other stops.

Both campaigns said they heard and saw the strength of rural communities to come together and take care of their own. The campaigns said they also heard from many the desire for these communities to open up local businesses and schools more.

Many of these events happened along with the typical door knocking, which also took on a slightly different look as the campaigns tried to maintain social distancing.

Because it was so important for both Dornink and Mueller to hear from people across the area, so they took to the outdoors to have events and doorknock.

Mueller and Dornink said many people told the campaigns that they wanted to be treated differently from the Metro.

The campaigns met with groups at farms, the Grand Meadow Gun Club, at city parks, or finding community events to join together.

Mueller said that her goal was to create opportunities for people to come together as a community safely during this time of isolation and to listen to their needs.

The  campaigns are hoping their efforts in the area show they are willing to engage with and listen to those they hope to represent.

Dornink and Mueller said that it is time for people to be represented by someone other than a career politician and who will spend their money responsibly, defend their individual freedoms and represent their area uniquely.