Area woman shares notes from campaign trail

An Ellis County woman said her belief in one presidential candidate was strong enough to convince her to travel more than 700 miles to knock on doors in Iowa neighborhoods in below freezing weather.

When Sylvia Coulson returned to her Waxahachie home, she carried the campaign with her, she said. Ted Cruz’s campaign organizers asked her to be the Ellis County campaign chair, she added, and she plans to use the time she doesn’t spend traveling the state as a consulting dietitian with Head Start organizing local support efforts.

Cruz, the junior U.S. Senator from Texas living in Houston, is campaigning for the Republican nomination for president and won the Iowa primary Monday, finishing 3 percentage points higher than Donald Trump, who finished second.

Coulson said the first step was deciding to participate in Cruz’s Iowa campaign.

“I have watched the election cycle and by the time it gets to Texas, the nominee is already picked,” Coulson said.

Primary elections are held at different times in each state, and since Texas primaries were usually later in the primary election cycle than other states, in the past the candidate she wanted to support had dropped out of the race or been pushed way to the back before the Texas primary is held, she explained. She decided to travel to Iowa to make a difference early in this campaign season, Coulson said. She and another couple traveled to Iowa from Jan. 16 to Jan. 23, Coulson said, because her husband couldn’t leave his job as a Waxahachie school teacher. On most of her days in Iowa, she walked door to door, talking with residents and explaining what had convinced her to vote for the Senator from Texas, but when she returned from her walking route or when the weather was bad, she made phone calls as well.

“The people in Iowa were weary of campaigning. People have been unloading all the dirty TV ads and robot phone calls on them,” Coulson said. “But the people of Iowa take election season very seriously. They were weary of the process, but very excited to talk about the candidates with a real person.”

She said many people thanked her for contacting them in person and invited her inside to escape the cold.

“I have a screen shot of the weather when I first started door to door on Jan. 18. It was 2 degrees. As a Texas girl, I had never experienced 2 degrees,” she said.

To prevent a common issue other campaigners had with their phones freezing and not knowing the next stop on the route until the phones warmed up, she kept hand warmers in her left glove and right pocket to keep her phone-swiping hand warm, she said.

“When it got to 25 degrees, we (the volunteers) said this is tropical,” she said.

As she watched the county by county results come back from the Iowa caucus on Monday night, Coulson said she was pleased to see the areas she campaigned in around West Des Moines and Dallas County come out in support of Cruz with stronger than expected numbers. She said her calls and visits did convince some Iowa residents to vote for him.

“I called one woman who said she could only talk for one minute because she was cooking dinner,” Coulson said, adding that in Iowa, dinner is the noon meal. “We talked for 20 minutes because she started asking questions and said she was really glad she got to talk to a live person.”

She had experiences like that a few times a day, she said.

Her fellow volunteers were of all ages and came from all over the country, she said. She personally met volunteer campaigners from Indiana, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinios, New York, Virginia, South Carolina, Idaho, Hawaii, Alabama and Michigan as well as many from Texas. One young man shared with the group that he had told his boss he was coming to campaign because it was important to him, and he understood if his job was not there when he came back, Coulson recalled. His boss assured they liked him and his job would be there when he got back, she said.

Volunteers were sent out with experienced leaders who would direct them to the right routes and coordinate transportation, she said. Volunteers were given a sheet with brief information about Cruz and his campaign, but what really mattered was their personal research and experience, she said. She said she would often bring up how Cruz stuck to his promise not to support oil subsidies in Texas because of his push to remove subsidies for ethanol, made from corn many Iowa farmers produce and other goods. Coulson said the fact that Cruz is a Christian and firm believer in saving unborn children is a characteristic she found she shared with many Iowa voters she spoke with.

While this was the first campaign Coulson said she has worked on for a while, her father, who was active in local politics as a precinct chair in Dallas, got her involved in elections when she was younger. She and her father were even delegates to the county and state Republican conventions together, she said, but the last time she was involved with a political campaign was supporting Ronald Reagan for election in 1980 and re-election in 1984. Requirements of family life and a lack of candidates who truly met all her criteria since then have kept her out of politics, she said. The recent graduation of her youngest son and the chance to support someone she believes is a true constitutionalist and does what he promises to do was too good of an opportunity to pass up, she said.

Back in Texas, Coulson said she is starting her local campaign with a recently created Facebook page Ellis County Cruz Crew. She hopes to use the page to connect with other local supporters and begin spreading the word. This year’s Texas primary elections will be held on March 1, so Texas voters will be able to play more of a role in picking a candidate for the Republican ticket in November, she said.

 

Contact Bethany Kurtz at 469-517-1450 or email bkurtz@waxahachietx.com. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BethanyKurtzMidloMirror or on Twitter @bethmidlomirror.