COC hosts panel discussion with Smith, Hill campaign managers

(From left to right) Zack Czajkowski, Ryan Valencia and Jeff Bomberger talk with COC students about what it means to work on a political campaign, November 28, 2018. Cory Rubin/The Signal

The College of the Canyons Political Science Department offered the public a chance to “look behind the curtain” of local election campaigns Wednesday.

With every seat filled in the small lecture hall at the Valencia Campus University Center, Zack Czajkowski, 26, the campaign manager for Congresswoman-elect Katie Hill, and Ryan Valencia, 23, the campaign manager for Assemblywoman-elect Christy Smith, took a step back from political ideology and gave prospective politicos an opportunity to see inside the daily life of a campaign manager.

“A campaign manager has their hands on a lot of different things, from dealing with consultants all day, to making sure the staff has the resources they need to be successful,” said Czajkowski. “And anything that doesn’t fall under anyone’s purview becomes your job to figure out.”

“Basically making sure everyone is happy,” Valencia added.

The campaign managers told students that if working and running campaigns is something they’re interested in, they should be prepared to do everything from ensuring the candidate’s message is heard to analyzing poll numbers to organizing the “boots on the ground.”

“You’ll hear a lot about the consultants versus the day-to-day staff and there’s two differences there,” said Valencia. “But really our job is about making sure things are running as smooth as possible.”

Czajkowski said these are not the aspects of a campaign that often get talked about, but are necessary if a candidate is to be successful.

“In the early stages, you’re doing emails, working with the creative team and the budget. And as the campaign grows, then you start to bring more people in to help,” Hill’s campaign manager said. “It’s a lot of 12 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Joining Valencia and Czajkowski at the front of the room was also Jeff Bomberger, the videographer for the Hill campaign, who told the young audience that people who do not have these traditional skill sets associated with politics still had a place in the political game.

“To be successful, you need to make yourself indispensable,” said Bomberger, after being called the “artistic guy” who directed and produced Hill’s most widely seen campaign ads.

Phil Gussin, the professor who organized the event, said it was planned before the election, and that he wanted students to see “young people having an impact.”

“There was no ideology behind the decision to do this,” said Gussin. “The goal of this was to not only to give students a look inside a campaign, but to also inspire and show political science students that young people can make a difference by doing something like this.”

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