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Government and law major John Stephenson '05 (Kintnersville, Pa.) has played significant roles in three different political campaigns this year, including two that he continues to assist this fall.

From the alumnus who hired him for the first campaign to the professors who help motivate him, Lafayette has encouraged Stephenson to push his limits, he says.

“What's great about Lafayette is the way the school encourages you to do more and be more than you already are,” Stephenson explains. “Now that I have worked on local campaigns, my professors want me to head to Washington D.C. to work with policy makers. I am considering an internship with my local congressman, James C. Greenwood, who is the chief congressional investigator for the recent corporate corruption scandals.”

Easton resident Ray Howe '54, manger of the State Senate campaign of Brian O'Neill, offered Stephenson a job on his campaign staff last year as a computer specialist and de facto adviser to the candidate. He worked from January until the campaign fizzled in May. Stephenson then moved over to the congressional campaign of Pat Toomey, signing up as an area coordinator. In August, he met the political director for Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Mike Fisher and became an area coordinator for the city of Easton.

“As a computer specialist for Brian O'Neill for State Senate, I tracked all of the campaign's finances, including donations and expenditures,” says Stephenson. “The state of Pennsylvania requires several timely and detailed finance reports from any resident who seeks a state or national office. The information I collected was the bulk of the financial reports sent to the state. For Toomey and Fisher, my job is to help get votes for the candidates by doing literature drops, recruiting volunteers, displaying signs and stickers, staging rallies, and writing letters to newspapers.”

Stephenson enjoys working with and meeting the people involved with politics.

“Contrary to our perceptions, many politicos are intelligent, friendly, and have the interests of their constituents at heart,” he says. “I also have had the chance to meet very famous elected officials through the campaigns. I got to meet and talk with U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Vice President Dick Cheney — all in a few weeks.”

Working on behalf of three different candidates has taught Stephenson the fundamentals of running a political campaign.

“Now I know what people you need to run a successful campaign, the amount of money you need to raise, the advantages and disadvantages of the various types of media, how to tackle bad press, and how to court constituencies that seem worlds apart,” he says. “I've also learned that political campaigns require people who are fast on their feet, aware of the big picture, and able to maintain grace under fire.”

Stephenson plans to attend law school after graduating. He then hopes to enter national politics or the public policy field — possibly foreign policy.

Stephenson is public relations and technology coordinator for Kirby Government & Law Society and vice president of College Republicans, for which he is developing strategy and recruiting new members. He was named to the Dean's List last year.

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