By EMILY SAWICKI | Contributing Writer
Seventeen-year-old Democrat Sadie Rochman is on a mission to inspire others in her generation to take an active role in our democracy.
Though Rochman, who was born and raised in Pacific Palisades and now attends Crossroads High School, said she was raised to be politically aware, she decided when she was 16 she had “privilege and the ability to use [her] voice and wasn’t doing anything about it.”
That was when she volunteered for her first phone bank at the Westside Democratic headquarters. After that, there was no going back.
“I kind of fell in love with my ability to use my voice and ability to educate others and give them the opportunity to use their voice, and help them realize their power in using their vote,” she said.
One year later, she is a fellow with the Grassroots Democrats HQ, a political organization working to flip congressional seats blue nationwide. This summer, she and a group of other young Democrats launched a Young Democrat Phone Bank series, inviting high school-aged teens from local schools to speak up in the 2020 election.
“One of … my main goals in starting the phone banks was to give a voice to young Democrats and educate them on their importance in the upcoming elections, because a lot of us will be voting in the presidential election,” Rochman described in a recent interview with the Palisadian-Post. “I just wanted to make sure that my generation was getting involved enough, and excited about voting and getting involved. I think Millennials, and possibly my generation, have started to feel a little bit discouraged by the current situation and maybe feel that their voice doesn’t count—even though it really does, we just have to get more excited about the future and using our voices.”
The first phone bank of the summer took place on July 11, when 23 high schoolers representing schools across the Westside phone banked for 50th District congressional candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar, a 30-year-old Democrat running to represent a district in east San Diego County.
“Because it’s all young people, it feels pretty lively, so it almost feels like a party with a bunch of calls going on,” Rochman said of the first phone bank, adding, “a lot of people hang up or don’t want to talk to you, but when a voter hears a kid on the phone, they’re less likely to hang up.” Rochman laughed, speculating that perhaps voters would feel uncomfortable hanging up on a kid—or perhaps “they’re more interested in what [we] have to say.”
Now, Rochman and the other young fellows are working to secure a location where they can hold future phone bank sessions. On July 23, they held a fundraiser in Santa Monica to raise money for their physical location, and local politicians Harley Rouda (D-CA 48th District) and Congressman Ted Lieu attended to show support—as did Campa-Najjar, who told Rochman he was excited to have young people advocating for him. Around 250 people appeared to help fund the teens’ project.
Once the 2020 election cycle is over, Rochman said she was considering working toward becoming a human rights attorney, aiming to major in either political science, sociology or public policy when she goes to college. But she hasn’t ruled out politics, either.
When asked if she would consider working in politics on a local level, perhaps in the Palisades, Rochman said she was inspired by her recent work.
“I think volunteering for the headquarters has made me consider that as an opportunity, because the work we focus on is definitely more local and representative-based,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot of the impact and effects these local representatives have had on their district constituents and how much of a role they can play locally—it’s not all about leadership at the national level, and I think I’ve been really inspired by that, and interested.”