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Democratic party headquarters find success in new Shepherdstown location

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Oct 2, 2020

From left, Jaime Hendriquez, of Shepherdstown, is helped with picking out a Sammi Brown campaign poster by Jefferson County Democratic Party Headquarters volunteer Rebecca Phipps in September. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — According to Amy Lindsey, Democratic Association of Jefferson County president, this year was the first time Shepherdstown has been the home to the main headquarters of the Jefferson County Democratic Party Headquarters.

While, in the past, Shepherdstown has only occasionally had a satellite office to represent the party, Lindsey said the COVID-19 Pandemic made the DAJC rethink its locational strategy.

“We normally put our headquarters in Charles Town, being the county seat. Having our headquarters in Shepherdstown is unusual,” Lindsey, who lives in Shepherdstown said.

Another reason Shepherdstown has historically not been the ideal party headquarters location, is that few spaces in town have been available for only a three-month loan. Luckily for the DAJC, the establishment of Evolve made it possible for that kind of arrangement to be made.

“One of our members, this is her space, which she normally rents out for pop-ups for artists. That’s kind of gone away, because people aren’t gathering to shop as much, during the COVID-19 Pandemic. So she offered that we could sub-let it from them for the next three months,” Lindsey said, mentioning the member was Elise Baach, who co-owns the space with Jan Hafer. “We just didn’t know what the future would hold, so they made that offer to us and we jumped at it!”

Evolve is the home to the Jefferson County Democratic Party Headquarters this year. Tabitha Johnston

While, normally, Evolve’s space would not be large enough to accommodate the kind of events that would have been held in the headquarters, that was not a concern leading up to the General Election this year. According to Lindsey, a number of in-person election-related events had to be canceled, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“While this space is much smaller than our previous spaces, that’s okay, because we’re not running work parties. In previous election years, we’d have 15 people working on a project,” Lindsey said. “We want to make certain whatever we do, we’re doing safely.”

In spite of not having a lot of events in the location, and no longer being based in Charles Town — which is still the home to the Jefferson County Republican Party Headquarters — the office has been seeing a large sign turnover.

“There are a lot of people that pass us on the street, and we’ve been very busy. We’ve had a lot more foot traffic here in Shepherdstown,” Lindsey said, comparing the headquarters to when it was in Charles Town. “We’ve had a lot of people take signs this year. People are very excited about the election!”

One of the most obvious signs the headquarters location was a success, was the number of its visitors, prior to Labor Day. According to Lindsey, although the General Election headquarters location is typically opened in August, it usually doesn’t see a large number of visitors until after Labor Day.

“Traditionally, Labor Day weekend is the weekend people put up signs, but not so this year!” Lindsey said.

“We opened on the the first of August, and the first couple of weeks were a little slow. Then things started picking up mid-August,” Lindsey said, mentioning their supply of Biden/Harris signs had to be reordered twice before Labor Day. “People were asking us for his signs previously, but we wanted to wait until Joe [Biden] had announced his running mate, before we had ordered our signs. And that had greatly increased the number of people who came in for signs.”

Lindsey said the headquarters has continued to reorder signs for the presidential and vice presidential candidates, to keep up with the demand. Along with these signs, voters can also get signs for the other Democratic Party candidates Jefferson County residents will be voting on for the General Election on Nov. 3.

According to Lindsey, along with the headquarters’ increase in foot traffic this year, she has been pleasantly surprised by the number of people who have come in, hoping to volunteer their time. Because of this good experience, Lindsey said she hopes the headquarters will again be able to be located in Shepherdstown, in the future.

“If it’s possible, after this experience, to have the headquarters here, we will do that,” Lindsey said. “This has been very very positive.”