Van Horn gains real-world experience as campaign intern

By: 
Keeley Meier, staff writer

Keeley Meier/BV Journal 

BVHS sophomore Sawyer Van Horn is volunteering as an intern for Democratic District 10 candidate, Michelle Hentschel.

Sawyer Van Horn won’t let his age stop him from getting involved in politics. The sophomore at Brandon Valley High School is helping with a political campaign through an internship with Michelle Hentschel, a Brandon resident who is seeking a South Dakota District 10 House of Representatives seat. 
 
Van Horn started his internship with Hentschel in August. 
 
“I originally was asking around with the state party and was wondering who was running for the state representative seat in District 10,” Van Horn said. “I was looking for an internship, so I called her, and about mid-August I started here.”
 
Along with learning from Hentschel, Van Horn gets to immerse himself in the campaign by putting together call lists, phoning voters to see if they want yard signs and making those yard signs—75 of which he made as part of his internship responsibilities. 
 
“A lot of what I’ve been doing is safe door knocking with Michelle, so we wear masks, knock on the door, step back and talk to the voter,” Van Horn said. 
 
Van Horn enjoys door knocking because of the interactions he witnesses between Hentschel and voters. 
 
“We had a lot of people who were saying ‘Michelle’s got our vote’ or a lot of ‘maybe, we’ll definitely look into Michelle,’” Van Horn said. “And that’s what Michelle likes is people doing their research into who they’re going to vote for.”
 
Van Horn aided in that research process by bringing in volunteers last weekend to complete call lists and contact potential voters. 
 
Although he has no specific post-high school plans as of yet, Van Horn knows he wants to attend college and said he has thought of getting involved in the political world after college. 
 
Van Horn acknowledges that being a Democrat in a primarily Republican state can be a point of contention.
 
“It can be challenging—sometimes in a red state, it can be hard for Democrats to win, or sometimes you might get heckled by the other side,” Van Horn said. “You’ve got to stay strong and not give up.”
 
Despite a shortage of registered Democrats in South Dakota, Van Horn stays steadfast in his support of Hentschel and her platform. 
 
“I feel like Michelle will be one to represent everyone in District 10 well,” Van Horn said. “When she talks to the voters, I feel like she does a great job explaining herself and explaining her campaign.”
 
Van Horn’s internship will end after the election, but he says he would consider joining another political campaign in the next election cycle. 
 
“I’m grateful for the opportunity Michelle gave me to be a part of her campaign,” Van Horn said. “It’s a great experience to learn more about the political process and how everything works.” 
 

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