Midterm Madness

MN students try to secure votes for upcoming election


It’s that time of year again; red and blue signs fill lawns across Omaha, heated debates take up major TV time slots, and it’s common to see candidate ads in your mailbox. The midterm elections are fast approaching; November 8th is the day that many MN student volunteers are anticipating.

Sophomore Lyndon Pantos is one such student. He has been volunteering for his father; Dave Pantos’s, campaigns since he was 12. This year, D. Pantos is in the running for Douglas County Attorney for the democratic party. This is not D.Pantos’s first election– he has worked with two campaigns prior to this election with L.Pantos volunteering alongside him.

“I’ve grown up doing these campaigns, so it’s cool to see how my dad has progressed and being able to meet new people through volunteering,”  L.Pantos said.

L.Pantos was given a few tasks to help gain recognition for the Pantos campaign, such as producing signs and making phone calls. At first, Pantos faced difficulties making the phone calls but as the calls rolled in, he quickly gained the confidence to complete them efficiently.

“Talking to someone you don’t know can be hard but once you get comfortable after five phone calls, you get more into a flow,” L. Pantos said.

Being the son of a political candidate, attending campaigning events is a given. L.Pantos can be seen in the front during parades and listening attentively to his father’s speeches. There’s even a possibility that L.Pantos will give a speech of his own if D.Pantos is the winning candidate.

“Even though I’m nervous about the speech, I feel like I’ll be able to handle it even if there will be a lot of people,” L.Pantos said.

L.Pantos has gained many friends and memories through campaigning. Even though he doesn’t plan on pursuing politics in the future, the life lessons he’s learned will stick with him in any career path he chooses.

“I’ve learned to respect other people’s opinions because there’s always room for change,” L.Pantos said. 

L.Pantos is not the only student who has been given an opportunity to work with elections. Junior Breeana Kastelic is involved in the campaign for US senator candidate Don Bacon for the republican party.

Kastelic got her start with volunteering through the Young Republicans club, where she was contacted by senior Jeff Birkentall about volunteering opportunities.

Through the club, she was able to get involved in volunteering for campaigns and attending political events. Kastelic was able to attend the Summit, where she met political figures like Senator Deb Fischer, Governor candidate Jim Pillen, and Congressman Don Bacon. 

“Don Bacon was really friendly, he’ll just walk right up to you and shake your hand. He’s just an average guy with a big position,” Kastelic said.

With the midterm election around the corner, the Bacon campaign is in full swing. Volunteers have their hands full with phone calls, door to door canvassing, and distributing merchandise.

Kastelic’s main task is to make phone calls to voters and gather information through surveys. Like all jobs, she runs into difficulties such as aggressive callers on the phone. But overall, she loves interacting with the voters and learning about their views.

“I really enjoy talking to people and sharing information about who the candidates are and what they believe in. This job is always interesting because of the people I interact with,” Kastelic said.

Along with canvassing, Kastelic and other student volunteers also distribute merchandise for election candidates. Their main focus is Don Bacon but they have also done merchandising for Legislative candidate, Marilyn Asher. 

After being involved in campaigns like this since February, Kastelic has learned a lot about herself and her future career goals. Volunteering has made her realize that she loves the promotional aspect of her job and that she might pursue a career similar to it in the future.

Through volunteering, Kastelic was also able to meet a lot of different people– not just political candidates, but students from MN and other schools across Omaha.

“We don’t just talk about politics, we get to know everybody for who they are. Not for what they believe in,” Kastelic said. 

Along with students, teachers are also getting ready for the upcoming election. MN government teacher, Robert Klug is preparing his students to be informed voters for this year’s midterm elections. 

While this is Klug’s first year teaching government, he has experience in politics, running for political office twice. In 2008 he ran for the learning community, an organization that works with public schools to provide services. In 2016 he ran for Belleview City Council where he finished second. 

To get ramped up for the upcoming election, Klug tries to incorporate the election into his lessons. By giving insight on a candidate’s views and stances, his students have more direction on who they vote for.  He also encourages his students to get involved with the election process any way they can. 

“I think just being connected to the campaigns is important, Even if you aren’t actively involved, just paying attention to what candidates are saying can be beneficial,” Klug said.

Students that are volunteering are gaining experience and skills they need for their future career goals. MN teachers are also playing a part in more students going to the polls as informed voters. The anticipation rises as students and staff buckle down for the final weeks before the midterm elections.