The Elect Emily 4 PA Youth Team has an exciting project: a campaign newsletter! The Youth Team is a group of incredible high school and college students who are dedicated to electing Emily to the Pennsylvania State House. During this stressful time of social distancing, we want to innovate new ways to bring you informative, fun, community-based content. We are excited for you to get to know us through this newsletter!

Read the current issue below, and subscribe to get future issues in your inbox here. Or scroll down to the bottom to access previous issues.

Usually, our newsletters are written by a combination of Youth Team and Campaign Staff effort: this time’s different! This time, your newsletter–filled with information about mail-in ballots and why the staff work for Emily–is 100% campaign staff made. Enjoy!

Mail-In Ballots: What You Need to Know
By Ben Gonzalez

(CLICK HERE FOR THE PA’S BY-MAIL INFORMATION PAGE) This election has the chance to profoundly impact the rest of our lives; we have to show up and say who we are as a country at the ballot this year. Even still, voting as an act has been changed by the deep disruption in our lives we’ve come to know as COVID-19. In response, several states, including Pennsylvania, have encouraged mail-in voting to combat the public health fears associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as allowing our free and fair elections to continue as scheduled. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The difference between mail-in and absentee ballots. Although they’re both by-mail options, you should make an effort to request absentee ballots if you’re out of the municipality when the polls are open. This can include anything from work or college causing you to be away from home, or even a vacation. Mail-in ballots, on the other hand, can be requested by any voter for any reason–you don’t need an excuse! Request a mail-in or absentee ballot here.

  • Deadlines. All mail-in ballot request applications must be received, not postmarked, by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 27, 2020 by your county’s election office. As per the recent PA Supreme Court ruling, all mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Afterwards, it must be received by your county’s election office by 5 p.m. the Friday after the election; in other words, November 6th, 2020, 5 p.m. If your ballot does not make it in time, it will not be counted. 

  • Provisional Ballots. If for any reason you do not think your ballot will be counted (use this ballot tracker by clicking here) go to your polling place and ask for a provisional ballot. That way, if your ballot wasn’t received, your provisional ballot will be counted; if your ballot was received, they will count your mail-in ballot while voiding your provisional ballot.

  • New Weekend Elections Offices. In addition to voting by mail and visiting your polling place, Allegheny County is implementing a plan to open up several offices across the area to enable voters to apply, receive, and drop off their ballot in-person and securely. The closest two offices for voters in Pine, McCandless, Marshall, and Bradford Woods are the North Park Ice Skating Rink Office–within the 28th District–and the County Office Building, downtown. Their hours are listed below. For a complete list of all office locations and hours, click here.

North Park Ice Skating Rink

1200 Pearce Mill Rd

Wexford, PA 15090

Dates and Times:

  • October 10th (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

  • October 11th (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)

  • October 24th (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

  • October 25th (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)

County Office Building

542 Forbes Ave

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Date and Times (in addition to being open regularly from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays):

  • October 10th (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

  • October 11th (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

  • October 17th (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

  • October 18th (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)

  • October 24th (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

  • October 25th (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)

Why I’m Working for Emily

Carolyn Falk

I first encountered the Skopov family on the sidelines of the NA Soccer Club fields. In middle school, our daughters played on the same soccer team. The team’s coach, Coach Craig, was on the faculty at CMU. As the spring season ended, Coach Craig volunteered to share his expertise in a free weekly math tutorial session for any of the teammates who wished to attend. The girls were still at an age when this sounded like a fun way to spend their summer evenings! In the NA School District, we are privileged to have teachers, mentors, and coaches like Coach Craig and many others, who go above and beyond to support our children.

Fast forward to Emily’s first campaign in 2018. I signed up to make phone calls and knock on doors. While I had always been an avid follower of politics, I had never been an active campaigner. Emily inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and act upon my beliefs. Attending the crowded debate against Mike Turzai, I knew we had a fierce fighter for PA District 28!

In 2020, I again signed up to volunteer to write postcards and drop literature. After losing my job to the pandemic, I have taken on an expanded role, planning and implementing physically distanced events that will safely and creatively keep Emily’s name in the spotlight.

Like the Skopov family, my husband and I chose NA for our children. I understand, however, that most people do not have that choice. In the United States, your educational options are dictated by the zip code into which you are born. Emily has taken a strong stand on public education. Three of her educational priorities are:

  1. Passing state legislation that will adequately and equitably fund public education.

  2. Opposition to charter schools, who have limited accountability and take dollars away from public school districts.

  3. Bringing down the costs of a skyrocketing college education.

We were lucky to have a mentor like Coach Craig. However, not every child is so fortunate. I know Emily Skopov will go to Harrisburg and fight for all of our children!

Nina Ruffolo

For the majority of 2020 we have been living through a pandemic. At some point, we have all stopped to think about our healthcare system and who we want to represent our interests in Harrisburg. We have wondered who is listening to our daily struggles.

I support Emily Skopov because she truly is listening to us. She has shown time and time again that she cares about the residents of PA-28 and their day to day lives. Her policies show us that. Her plans to better Pennsylvanian’s access to healthcare goes above and beyond to make sure our health care is comprehensive. Her health care plan is unique as it includes a platform to listen and aid constituents about the shortfalls of our current healthcare system regarding mental health.

Emily Skopov wants to break the stigma against reaching out for help when we need it. We are all comfortable seeking help when we have physical ailments, so we should be just as comfortable seeking help for our mental health. She understands that mental and physical health go hand in hand, and are of equal importance. We cannot just stop at breaking stigmas surrounding mental health, we must also address the working conditions for mental health specialists. Many mental health specialists work under stressful conditions for pay that does not match their circumstances. They often face trouble when trying to unionize, and are constantly on-call. The personal toll this takes on those who want nothing but to help us ultimately hurts us all as a society. I know personally that Emily will fight for them, for us, and so much more.

The Life of an Organizer
By Sunvy Yalamarthy

“Hi There! My name is Sunvy and I am calling from the Emily Skopov campaign. I just wanted to connect with you about our volunteer events this week! I would love to catch up with you in the following days for a few minutes about our events this week!” 

Voicemail sound familiar? Yep, that’s me, Sunvy Yalamarthy! I’m trying to leave you plenty of voicemails to get you to volunteer. I have the pleasure of serving as the campaign’s organizer! I am a 19 year old sophomore at Temple University studying psychology and political science. I grew up in Franklin Park (shoutout to the Franklin Park Democrats) and graduated from North Allegheny in 2019.

My earliest interaction with the Skopov campaign was in 2018 when Emily was the first guest speaker of the newly founded Young North Allegheny Democrat club. Her fiery personality and ambition to serve not only energized my classmates and I to become politically active, but for me to pursue a career in politics. You read that correctly, Emily Skopov is the reason I want a career in politics.

COVID-19 has made campaigning interesting and at times difficult, but we need to win this election. Emily can not win this election by herself. She needs everyone to help, and losing is not an option. COVID-19 has not done anyone favors, but not being able to canvass has really hampered how the campaign reaches out to voters. We have had to get creative and rely on new methods to contact voters. Textbanking, Postcard Writing, Literature drops have all been great, but none of them compare to how effective phonebanking can be. I will be the first to admit it, phonebanking can be boring, but it is incredibly important. It allows us to talk to voters in an efficient and safe way.

Please consider volunteering for the campaign by phonebanking. Our weekly phonebank events are only an hour long, and you can do it on your own time! Every dial, voicemail, and conversation gets us one step closer to winning, and it really is a team effort. The election is in 44 days, and I will only say two things: phonebank for Team Skopov or clear your voicemail box!

Building Community in a Virtual Campaign
By Maria Graziano

As a campaign staffer for Emily, my job includes a little of everything. My main focus, though, is digital and social media efforts for the campaign–reaching people across multiple platforms. I work closely with Ben, and we bounce ideas off one another for social media, the newsletter, and other forms of marketing and communications for the campaign. COVID-19 changed the way campaigns run, the way we can reach out and communicate with supporters and potential voters, and how to approach our run in general. So of course, we learned to adapt on the fly.

The biggest project I work on is the Skopov Social Squad, a private Facebook group created this past summer for Emily supporters and voters to come together in a communal setting. The mission and goal of this group is to come together to ask questions, share stories, pictures, ideas, and other content, and cultivate a community of shared ideas and goals. Most importantly, the Skopov Social Squad is a community where supporters of Emily can learn more about her policies and platform, so they can feel confident to share Emily’s platform on their own social media, and to friends, family, or neighbors. To support this effort, I plan and create various education and informative content that members of the group can save and use in their own social circles at any time. Within these posts, and added with the posts, comments, and feedback from other members within the Skopov Social Squad, we have developed a strong sense of community with one another, bonded by a common goal: send Emily to Harrisburg and flip our district blue.

But why is that sense of community so vital to a state house campaign? With the campaign going virtual in so many ways as safety during COVID-19 remains a priority, we have had to get innovative on how to bring Emily supporters together. Canvassing, volunteer events, meet and greets with your candidate, all of these traditional methods of campaigning create a sense of community and togetherness for supporters. It’s a way to inspire and create the enthusiasm needed for the campaign to be as successful it can be to win. But with COVID-19 restrictions and the safety of everyone in mind, the 2020 campaign cycle, like many other things this year, has taken a widely virtual approach, and the urgency to create that same sense of community was greater than ever. Through the creation of the Skopov Social Squad and other social media initiatives, we have successfully grown a tight-knit community of dedicated supporters and volunteers who share a common set of values and urgency to elect Emily to be our state representative.

Ultimately, since its creation in July, the Skopov Social Squad has fostered a niche environment of people across District 28 (and yes, even some dedicated Dems from surrounding districts) who care deeply about the future of democracy in Western PA, and know Emily Skopov is the woman we need to fight for us in Harrisburg.