Democratic director speaks

By Zach Werner

Avis LaVelle, the Illinois state director for the Kerry-Edwards campaign, spoke last night at 7 p.m. in Harper 130, to a crowd of students. The event was co-sponsored by UC Dems and Students for Kerry-Edwards.

Before becoming state director, LaVelle was a fixture in the political life of Chicago and Illinois, having previously worked as a television reporter, a press secretary for Mayor Richard M. Daley, and as head of A. LaVelle Consulting Service.

LaVelle discussed the national and statewide political situation leading up to the presidential election on November 2. She explained in further detail the policies both candidates referred to during the debates and answered questions afterwards.

She also spoke about her efforts to mobilize young voters and volunteers in Illinois.

“People are willing to do whatever it is they can do for John Kerry and be imaginative about it,” LaVelle said. “There are people here in this state who have been phone banking for four or five months.”

The head of Students for Kerry-Edwards, Brian Karfunkel, a second-year in the College and also an executive UC Dems board member, said it was a privilege to have LaVelle talk on campus. “We’re very lucky that the state director is willing to come speak to U of C students,” he said. “Avis wants to talk to students. I think she recognizes that we provide a lot of energy for the campaign.”

Rico Gardaphe, also a second-year in the College and another member of the UC Dems executive board, said LaVelle spoke to motivate students to participate in the campaign. “We hope her talk encourages listeners to get involved in the last few weeks of this election season or at least to get out and vote,” he said.

Gardaphe said that UC Dems plans to bring in additional speakers in the future. “We’re all looking forward to it as being the first of many UC Dems-sponsored speaker events here on campus,” Gardaphe said.