Key Chappaqua supporters explain why they’re #WithHer and working hard to help elect Hillary Clinton first woman POTUS.
By Stacey Pfeffer
It’s been a momentous few weeks here in the hamlet of New Castle. At the annual Chappaqua Memorial Day Parade, Hillary Rodham Clinton marched and waved to residents–many of whom were hoping to see her become the official Democratic presidential nominee in early June. Then just over a week later, a bus full of residents were thrilled to travel to the Booklyn Navy Yard to lend their support and bask in the history of her officially clinching the Democratic nomination; a group of New Castle supporters celebrated at Mario’s Restaurant on lower King Street.
Now that Clinton is the official Democratic candidate, the Inside Press had the opportunity to interview key supporters who have been staying near and dear to her campaign and/or working constructively on “Get Out the Vote,” referred to commonly as GOTV. We heard firsthand their reflections on what it means to have one of our most famous neighbors as the potential next President.
Dawn Evans Greenberg, a 17-year resident of Chappaqua, and founder of the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival and Chappaqua Cares, moved into the neighborhood the same year as the Clintons. She is now the President of Chappaqua Friends of Hill (CFOH), a group that includes more than 400 members with 50 actively working on getting out the vote. “I always knew she would be the nominee. I am even more devoted to her than I was in the past. Her positions mirror my positions and I’ve gotten to know her a little better and see the heart behind her policies. I’m thrilled.”
“Chappaqua is always a magical place and honestly the fact that the former President is here and Hillary–I have to pinch myself everyday. The fact that we live a mile away and that we see her downtown and she knows who we are just amazes me,” exclaimed Greenberg who has spearheaded events around town celebrating milestones in the campaign. There have been regular meetings at Le Jadin du roi and at Chappaqua Station to plan and “primary watch” parties at Mario’s on lower King Street. “On August 6th, one week after the Democratic Convention, the CFOH will host a town wide event to celebrate the nomination of Secretary Clinton. It will be a family celebration with games, music and bbq, celebrating the first woman nominee of a major party and our hometown girl.”
Beth Sauerhaft moved back to town nine years ago after growing up here. She has never been part of a political campaign before but is now a member of the Chappaqua Friends of Hill. ”When someone comes from your community, you feel like they understand you and it’s a touchpoint. This isn’t just Joe or Jane from somewhere else in the country. It is someone who has put down some roots here and that is one of the reasons that has really compelled me to get involved.”
Another resident who has been actively supporting Hillary is Ann Styles Brochstein who along with New Castle resident Cynthia Metcalf founded what they called until recently Hillary NOW, a social media group active on Facebook with members from all over the country. After Hillary Clinton clinched the nomination, they changed the name to: Chappaqua & the U.S. 4 Hillary NOW. The group scours news stories about Hillary but also offers a distinctly Chappaqua perspective on her. “We see something that the rest of the country unfortunately doesn’t get to see. We see a member of our community and somebody who is warm and engages with us. We really want to convey the warmth and the human personal side of her.” Brochstein, who holds an MBA and worked in the world of finance for many years, truly believes that “she is hands down the most qualified person we’ve had running for office in a long time. The culmination and accumulation of her personal and life experiences has made her a natural candidate.” To that end, the group expresses pride that it posts press releases daily from the campaign and have steadily grown their Twitter presence to 2800 followers. “Cynthia Metcalf and I make an effort to post original tweets/opinions in addition to re-tweeting posts we find interesting.”
These key supporters around town have non gratis extended their considerable professional skills and connections to support her candidacy. The passionate support is, in fact, a labor of love and commitment to her campaign–and includes those who work full time at their own jobs or businesses.
That is true for Dawn Dankner Rosen, owner of a marketing and public relations firm in town and president of the local Chappaqua Millwood Chamber of Commerce. She told the Inside Press she has “conducted media blitzes” to gain coverage of her at events here; “I’m not sure there’s ever been a candidate more qualified…her positions on LGBT rights, gun control, women, abortion, health care and her overall approach to dealing with foreign and domestic issues align with my own and have sealed the deal for me,” Rosen stated. Also a member of Chappaqua Friends of Hill, Rosen stated she is “exhilarated, motivated, inspired and excited to be a part of this historic “Hillary movement”–for women, children, our country and the entire world as we now know it to be, and hope that it will become!”
Fundraising for Hillary in her backyard is also a critical activity for supporters around town. Tracy Stein held a major fundraiser in April under a tent inside her home where Hillary had a chance to speak directly with many hometown supporters and mingle with some before and after. “My husband Marco Masotti and I have been involved because we view it as our civic duty and want our children to know that you must be part of the political process to make a better world,” Stein told the Inside Press. “But we’re especially excited about the promise of Hillary Clinton. In addition to being part of this incredible moment in history with the first woman candidate, Secretary Clinton is an excellent candidate, especially compared to her very dangerous competition.”
And it’s not all local moms (or dads) rallying behind her. Justin Thaler, who was born and bred in New Castle will be entering his sophomore year at Roger Williams University; he is a member of Chappaqua Friends of Hill and weighs in regularly at the Chappaqua & US 4 Hillary NOW page too. As a millennial, Thaler acknowledges that it can be hard to be a Hillary supporter “with so many people in school that are [Bernie] Sanders supporters. Having to get into conversations with others whether defending her on key issues [whether it be women’s rights or LGBT rights], I know her record and I know what she means to me. Being her neighbor has really made me understand more of her as a candidate and really admire her as a person.”
Gray Williams, the town historian and a trustee of the New Castle Historical Society noted that we have had two residents that have run for President. “Horace Greeley ran in 1872 for President and was decidedly beaten by Grant and I hope that doesn’t set a precedent [for Clinton].“ Although Greeley had a summertime residence here, Mr. Williams notes that “the Clintons have definitely made this their community. This is where they vote. This is where they are on the Census. Hillary has been marching for many years in the annual Memorial Day parade and is very faithful about that. When she was in her official capacity as a Senator she would come in and swear in our local representatives such as the Town Judge and did it for several years. She went out of her way to do that. She and Bill definitely create good vibes in the community.”
While most interviewees supported Clinton, there are of course dissenting opinions around town. Michael Levine, a registered Republican and Millwood resident questioned her veracity and said “I actually voted for Bill Clinton once because I think he is a more genuine person. I can’t believe anything Hillary says. Anything she does is for her best and not for the benefit of the country.” When prodded about what advice Greeley known as “Old Honesty” would have given Clinton, Mr. Williams suggested “Be honest and straightforward as possible.”
Those who support Hillary don’t try to ‘change the minds’ of those clearly not in her camp but will convey their passion and best talking points of the campaign to persuade the undecideds or, as is the case with CFOH, work hard to make sure voters who do say they support Hillary arrive at the polls–and vote. Indeed, the CFOH group has reached out well past Chappaqua borders to help with GOTV, Greenberg explains. The CFOH did extensive phoning into Connecticut, Kentucky, West Virginia, Wisconsin, New Jersey and California. Members also traveled to Connecticut to canvass, said Greenberg, plus sent four teams to Essex County, NJ over the last weekend before the vote. “Our biggest task was running the Yonkers, Mt. Vernon and Peekskill campaign offices leading up to the NY Primary,” she said. “Two dozen of us put in 12-hour days and had a fantastic time doing it. We’ll be doing Westchester GOTV efforts in the fall for the general election, as well as traveling to swing states. Also, 14 of us are headed to the Philadelphia Convention in late July!”
While the GOTV efforts are critically important to the campaign, no matter how a particular Chappaquan goes about helping Hillary Clinton, there’s universal agreement that the former first Lady, two time Senator and Secretary of State, and now presumptive Democratic nominee for the President of the United States, continues to trail blaze.
Brochstein who has lived here since 1992 recalls that a lot of residents didn’t know what to expect initially of the Clintons when they first moved here. “They [the Clintons] weren’t native New Yorkers and over time they have really become part of the fabric of the community and very beloved. Here not only will we have a sitting President but we will have the first woman President and for so many reasons and in so many ways, it’s historic and really exciting.”
Stacey Pfeffer lives in Chappaqua with her three young children and husband. As a second generation American and daughter of a Vietnam veteran, she has never missed an opportunity to vote and can usually be seen voting with at least one of her children in tow. (Additional reporting by Grace Bennett, Publisher and Editor, Inside Press)