Students of Lake Stevens High School helped elect April Berg to the Washington legislature  – 

Johnson and Rai describe their experiences on the Berg campaign 

April Berg campaign FaceBook page.  “[COVID] was a dark cloud that hung over the campaign,” Johnson said. Photo courtesy of the Berg campaign.

April Berg campaign FaceBook page. “[COVID] was a dark cloud that hung over the campaign,” Johnson said. Photo courtesy of the Berg campaign.

April Berg, former small business owner, and Everett School District director was sworn into the Washington House of Representatives on January 8, 2020. 

April Berg, endorsed by progressive organizations such as Equal Rights Washington, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, and Washington Conservation Voters, no doubt attracted 44th District voters with her progressive policies and background in education and community. 

Junior Kaitlyn Johnson and sophomore Aimel Rai, who focused on voter outreach and teen engagement, were helpful in getting April’s Campaign message to 44th District voters.

Johnson didn’t have experience with political campaigns prior to joining April’s campaign as lead intern; although, she did have experience with activism and issue advocacy on the local level. Johnson attended school district meetings and school board meetings and was a member of the endorsement committee for the State Young Democrats

Johnson first became aware of Berg through her involvement in the Snohomish County Young Democrats.

“I was on the committee that decides whether or not we’re going to endorse candidates running for office,” Johnson said. “[Berg] really started to pique my interest. She talked about fully funding special [education] in a way that not a lot of candidates are willing to talk about. I’d never heard of someone so progressive running in the 44th.”

When Johnson first started out in politics, she was focused on a single issue of special education funding and treating people with disabilities equitably after seeing inequitable treatment of students in special education classrooms.

Kaitlyn currently leads the Best Buddies Clubs at LSHS–which is an international organization that uses “employment, friendship pairings, and inclusive living to end the socioeconomic isolation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” 

Best Buddies is currently holding meetings to get to know one another and learn about “what meaningful inclusion looks like.” 

(If you are interested in joining Best Buddies you can email Kaitlyn Johnson at [email protected])

Rai first heard of April’s campaign when she saw Johnson’s involvement on Instagram.

“I was really interested because at the time I really wanted to be involved in doing something for my community, and this seemed like a great way and April seemed like a great candidate,” Rai said. “April was the first candidate when I actually talked to her that was willing to listen. I hadn’t seen that before in any candidate, and she really let me have a voice.”

Rai found that even though she didn’t have prior campaign experience, the work was accessible. 

“Coming onto the campaign I was scared, I didn’t know what to expect, but the whole team made it so easy and we got along so well. We keep in touch to this day,” Rai said. 

At the start of the campaign, Kaitlyn focused on calling voters. 

“It was a lot of phone banking, usually three days a week for those two hours. April was a really new candidate, so it was about trying to get the word out about her name, what she stood for,” Rai said.

Reaching voters is essential in any campaign. Along with phone banking, Rai and Johnson organized virtual teen town hall events. Rai described her experience with virtual teen town halls as one of her favorite aspects of working on the campaign. 

“April would pick a topic and we would ask teens to come in and talk. I got to have my input taken into account, I got the chance to let other people talk about these issues,” Rai said.

Sophomore Josefina Odegaard attended a teen town hall organized by Johnson and Rai. 

Overall I felt heard and respected. I felt that I had a voice and was able to express how I truly felt,” Odegaard said.

Both Johnson and Rai appreciated being able to contribute to Berg’s campaign. 

“I don’t think if I was to be on someone else’s campaign I would never have made these connections that I have now,” Rai said.