While much of the nation spent the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 3 anxiously awaiting presidential election results, Jonathan Weinberg ’22 stood shivering outside a Concord, New Hampshire polling station.
He was waiting for the unofficial results of the Concord School Board District B election. His name was on the ballot.
As the night grew colder and the votes were counted, a winner began to emerge. Weinberg secured a spot on the local school board.
“The night I found out, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is actually happening.’ It really didn’t seem real and I don’t think it’s completely sunk in, even yet.” Weinberg said.
Weinberg, his parents and sister, campaigning in downtown Concord.
Weinberg has wanted to make an influence on the education system in his hometown since he was a student in the district, not too many years ago. Then, an opportunity presented itself: an opening on the school board.
The junior philosophy major at Whitman felt called to step forward—he saw a need for young voices in education, especially at a time when school was virtual due to the pandemic. Weinberg announced his candidacy and as news spread throughout town, immense support poured in from family, friends and the community.
The newly founded Concord Singing Troupe even wrote and performed a campaign anthem for Weinberg to garner support and create excitement.
“If people want to run for office, making sure you have a good support system around you is important. I was very lucky to have a family that supported me, and friends who stood in the cold New Hampshire 28-degree weather with me from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. campaigning,” he said.
Listening, Learning and Preparing to Lead
Throughout his campaign, Weinberg made student interaction and voices his priority. He met with many of the local student organizations.
Weinberg knew that many aspects of his local school district needed to change, from his own experience as a student. It wasn’t until he started talking with current students that he realized just how much needed to be done.
“I was blown away by their ideas, how current, knowledgeable and introspective they were. I met with the Feminism Now Club and they were absolutely brilliant. They taught me about issues that I may have not thought relevant at a school level but will now advocate for,” Weinberg said.
“It was great to speak with Tucker McPartlin for his journalism class at Concord High School. Exciting to see students getting involved in politics, and civically engaged at an early age,” Weinberg posted on his campaign Facebook page.
“It was incredible to listen to the students. They know what they have and have not been learning,” Weinberg said.
Weinberg hopes to be a visible, strong presence for the students in his district. He wants to encourage opportunities for students to get involved with the school board and voice their concerns and ideas. The pandemic has shown him that he can continue to participate, lead and pursue his own education even from a remote location.
Many of the campaign and communication strategies that Weinberg used on social media, in debates and when talking with the community came from his experience on the Whitman Debate Team, led by Lauren Shaefer.
“[The Debate Team] provided me with a broader view about empathy. Everyone has their own unique experiences and backgrounds. You can’t just generalize and universalize an experience.”
When the campaign was challenging, and it often was, Weinberg kept his goal in mind: to advocate and serve the local students and their educational needs.
“With local campaigns, your individual input is key, and I just keep reminding myself why I was running.”