Featured Pete Pal: Virginia for Pete
We wanted to feature some of the amazing grassroots supporters behind your favorite Pete for America accounts across social media. These folks have put forward time and effort into sharing the campaign’s message in a way that connects their local communities to the online community and I would love for you to meet them!
My name is Kyle Ruempler and I’m 27 years old, from Alexandria VA, though currently living just across the county line in Arlington. I’ve lived in Virginia my whole life, including when I went to school at UVA (#GoHoos), so it made sense when I first saw Pete in the March CNN Town Hall to create @VAforPete on Twitter and Facebook. When not tweeting about my love for Pete, I play trumpet in three different ensembles performing jazz, classical, and rock/pop covers. And during the day, my full time job is working as a transaction coordinator for Compass, a real estate brokerage that really pushes the envelope in terms of technology and workplace culture. I get to help our realtors every day dealing with clients, tricky contracts, and even some marketing like video creation and email campaigns. Trying to use those skills both in communication and social media to support Pete’s run for President! So while my studies and hobbies are not political in nature, I think that’s the beauty of Pete’s message - that someone not involved in government can get excited about a candidate and find ways to support. That’s really the key to the campaign and what I love focusing on with Twitter, getting to know each individual and what makes them want to vote for Pete. I started the “Counties for Pete” map challenge, to see if we could find at least one person on #TeamPete from each county (Virginia has 133 when you include the independent cities, so we’ve got a ways to go!). And just like many other 4Pete accounts, I want to know the issues (political and otherwise) that Virginians are facing and want answered. Just doing my part in the incredible and positive #PeteForAmerica grassroots community, and love seeing the burst of support within my state and elsewhere.
What inspired you to start a Pete specific account?
I identify with Pete both as a gay man and as a millennial, but the biggest inspiration for me was his calm demeanor. He answers every question thrown at him thoroughly and with a positive attitude.
What was the first campaign you ever donated to?
Bernie Sanders’ campaign in 2016 (though don’t worry, I voted for Hillary in the general!)
Do you have a first “political memory”?
A couple people mentioned remembering having to vote at school as kids- they said they picked by picture or name familiarity. I remember being assigned to dress as and do a biography as Susan B. Anthony as a kid and I almost didn’t believe that women had ever been not allowed to vote.
Funny enough we did a mock Presidential vote when I was in 3rd grade for the 2000 election. We had some very basic discussion beforehand, and I could tell that most people favored Al Gore. Because I love supporting “the underdog” and knew nothing at age 8 about political issues, I voted for Bush. Luckily I wasn’t in Florida, so you can’t blame the outcome on my one vote ;-)
Let’s get controversial, is a hot dog a sandwich?
It’s gonna be a no from me, dawg
Do you have a favorite Pete meme?
Pete holding Buddy (representing America) in bed, saying that everything will be alright.
What’s your favorite Pete interview or quote? Why is it your favorite?
You mean aside from “Pete Slow Jams the News”? But I think my favorite interview was when Pete was on Rachel Maddow’s show. There were lots of great moments in that interview, but here’s a quote that exemplifies Pete’s campaign and approach to leadership: “[Rachel] ‘How do you run a campaign like this when you’ve never done anything of this magnitude?’ [Pete] ‘It’s about surrounding yourself with experienced people and listening to feedback.’” Pete knows what he does not know, and is ready to bring in experts rather than propose policies with drastic impact on topics of which he doesn’t have a full understanding.
Do you have your own stump speech? If someone sees your Pete swag IRL, what’s your go-to line to introduce them to Pete?
You can probably tell from my answers that I’m long-winded. But the gist is that Pete belongs to a new generation, who will actually see the consequences of policies made today. So he has a real interest in making our country a better place for his family. If you look at his record, it’s clear he makes an effort to get every perspective he can, from people of all walks of life, to make sure his decisions are positive in the long-term.
What’s the best way for people in your local area to help?
I am really inspired right now because the grassroots event in Alexandria next month (June 14th) was started up by someone who hosted a watch party back in April for Pete’s announcement. They just wrote to the campaign, were persistent, got a few co-hosts to help organize and advertise, and made it happen. Not everyone needs to go this big, but I am here to be a microphone for Virginians, not to create all the content and all the events. So if people out there want to meet up with Pete supporters for a happy hour or volunteer day or watch party, just say it and we’ll come together as a community to make it happen!
Have you volunteered for a political campaign before? What would you say to first time volunteers or people just starting to get involved?
Never done this before! So I’m the one who needs some advice! But I’m diving in head first and finding that the people in the grassroots team want everyone to contribute and succeed. I’m being put in a position that utilizes my skill set to help others (followers and other PFA team members) and support Pete at the same time. Just go for it and you’ll find your niche.
Is there a specific policy of Pete’s that close to your heart? Why?
Although for me personally climate change is the most important and pressing issue for today, I see first hand with my job in real estate how crucial having a place to call home is. And even if everyone is well-intentioned, it has become far too costly for construction companies (via zoning, red tape, material costs) to create affordable housing, so it just gets pushed to the wayside. Pete’s messaging on affordable housing really resonates with me: “We must invest in affordable housing for working families, reform unnecessary land use rules that prevent affordable housing construction, and redress the history of housing discrimination against communities of color that has limited economic mobility and fueled the racial wealth gap.”
Is there anything you would like us to answer, or anything you want us to ask future featured Pete accounts?
I saw Andi from @SDforPresPete said that pineapple does not belong on a pizza, so I think that should be a question for everyone to answer. I actually polled my followers and the 206 votes came out literally 50% yes, 50% no. It might be the one issue that Pete can’t resolve. (The official Pete Pals position: pizza & pineapple belong together- besides, tomatoes are fruit, bell peppers are a fruit, and we don’t debate those!)
What would your ideal Pete shirt look like?
Like Pete, I really enjoy running, so I would love to see an athletic shirt (sweat-proof material) in “River Blue” that simply has Pete’s bridge logo on the front.
Have you had the chance to go to a Pete event? Can you tell us about that experience?
Yes! I went to his appearance in DC at City Winery in early April. It was a very quick one; obviously there are a lot of places to go and people to see in DC when you’re a politician. But Chasten opened the floor for him and then Pete spoke right from his heart like he always does. I got to meet a handful of other people running 4Pete accounts, and went with a friend from college. So a great social atmosphere; everyone wanted to talk about his book, or the CNN Town Hall, or what they’re doing to support the PFA team. It was special to see Pete relatively early in the process, and just about 10 feet from where I stood. Excited to see him again in Alexandria in mid-June!
What do you do when social media gets to be too much? How do you handle the trolls?
I have to be honest that venting does occur; you need to let out the steam. But in private channels like texting. The great thing about this group is that you can air frustration, people understand and laugh, and then you’re right back to being positive. No one lingers on any bashing, and we’re all ready to put our best foot forward.
What does “Be Like Pete” mean to you?
There’s the obvious that Pete is positive and optimistic, so “Being Like Pete” means being a friend to all. But what I hope to also embody when I use that phrase is a kind of curiosity. Pete knows what he doesn’t know, and constantly wants to listen to other people, learn from their experiences, and use that to better his ideas.