Cancer Action Network volunteers in actoin at the Hanna Arcuri debate at MVCC 2010

Cancer action plus politics in CD 24 NY

Photo and story by Tom Loughlin Jr.
The face of charity fundraising is changing as the slack economy tightens purse strings and glues wallets shut in self defense of personal imperatives often at the expense of altruism.

At least one brand of political lobbying is changing its’ dynamic too. What was once the realm of graying heads in ivory towers on Madison Avenue pulling strings in Washington is changing , at least in one major project to the efforts of young mothers and their children staffing pamphlet distribution tables at political debates and offering guidance to contestants for public office.
That “project” , a prime example of the new face of lobbying and fundraising (fund -assuring) was exemplified by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network involvement in the Utica Rome League of Women Voters Congressional debate at Mohawk Valley Community College There and elsewhere throughout the nation , ACSCAN is striving to obtain support among legislators for increased funding support for cancer research .to augment private and corporate contributions.
In an October 19 press release , ACS CAN chief executive officer John R. Seffrin, PhD, laid out the reasons for the action plan .“We cannot defeat cancer in this country with research alone – elected officials have the power to enact policies that impact our ability to prevent and fight the disease. Lawmakers make critical decisions about funding groundbreaking medical research, expanding access to quality health care and enacting strong policies that discourage people from taking up the deadly habit of smoking. We hope all candidates will go on the record with their positions on these issues.”

Here in Central New York , ACSCAN provided the League of Women Voters 24th CD debate with newspaper advertising support in the Observer Dispatch . They showed up at the debate with a crew of young staffers and volunteers providing informational pamphlets to attendees and following up on candidates positions and performance after the election. In addition, the sponsoring groups all received not only the live event exposure, but the broadcast on WUTR TV, two broadcasts of the debate on CSPAN a week later, and both advance and post-evet coverage in the Observer Dispatch.

“It was a new experience for us” , said Sherry L. Tomasky, MA Regional Advocacy Director American Cancer Society from her Albany office. “We had our new voter guide with volunteers to staff an information table and get the guides passed out.” In other races, Tomasky said, ASCAN depended on running banner ads on the websites of the local newspapers,specifically the Watertown Times and the Plattsburgh Press-Republican. The only other live audience debate supported by ACSCAN was in 19th district . -Putnam-Middletown-Southern Tier where Nan Hayworth of Mt Kisco is challenging Democrat incumbent John Hall of Dover Plains. .That event came after MVCC.

Tomasky continued, “I’m very satisfied with the outcome of the involvement with the League . MVCC, and WUTR-TV. The responses to the American Cancer Society website and the ACS have spiked since the debate and we can track those responses directly to the event and the guides distributed there. The guides are designed to help the individual voter decide just how vital an issue the defeat of cancer is to them.. We hope voters who aren’t fortunate enough to have heard their candidates commit as cancer fighters in person as they both did MVCC will come to our website to learn candidate positions on the fight against cancer and maker their decisions as informed voters” .

Tomasky concluded, “We don’t endorse candidates. We inform candidates and voters. We want cancer fighters elected to office and we hope the voters agree.”


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