From organizing phone banks and events to entering data and gathering signatures to get President Obama on the Montana primary ballot, volunteers Gene, Joni, and Julie Quenemoen are doing everything they can to make sure the President wins in November.
In a rare moment of free time, the three offer their take on highlights from the President’s first term, what’s at stake this November, and what it means to be their neighborhood’s most committed father-daughter-daughter team.
Q. What do you do when you’re not working on the campaign?
Gene: My professional training is in agriculture and economics.
Joni: I am a retired teacher. I taught in public schools for 29 years. I’ve taught in Connecticut at a magnet school with inner-city kids, a rural school in Montana, an international school in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and I finished my career in San Antonio, Texas. Right now I work part-time for a pediatric dental clinic here in Bozeman.
Julie: I’m retired from managing a retail business. I’m an art quilter and a volunteer at the Museum of the Rockies here in beautiful Bozeman, Montana. When I’m not doing that or helping with the campaign, I love to bike, hike, travel, knit and spend time with my family.
Q. Why do you support the President?
Gene: President Obama provided strong leadership in our nation’s efforts to stimulate the sinking economy he inherited. He has received a lot of misguided criticism. Without his leadership, our national and world economy would very likely be in a serious recession.
Julie: I support President Obama first and foremost because he is “for the people”—and that means all the people! Despite having the huge obstacle of an opposing party blocking his every attempt, he has managed to meet some truly amazing goals. It’s been a breath of fresh air to have a thoughtful and reflective leader, and it’s crucial that we move forward.
Joni: He inherited some tremendous problems, and has worked diligently to solve them. He needs a second term to keep this country on the correct path and to keep the opposition from undoing what he has worked to accomplish.
Q. What motivated you to get involved?
Julie: I was involved in the 2008 campaign in a very small way, and have been so satisfied with the commitment, gracious demeanor, patience, and strength of this president that I made up my mind to become even more involved in the 2012 campaign.
Joni: My sister, Julie, encouraged me to attend an organizational meeting with her. I was also inspired by my dad, who has always worked hard for causes he believes in.
Julie: My mom and dad have participated in political campaigns for many years, and I’ve always viewed it as a great way to give back to our community, our state, and our country. We are so blessed to live in Big Sky Country. I’ve had my share of “legs up” in my lifetime, and I want to see generations to come have those opportunities.
Gene: My daughters encouraged me to get involved. We received encouragement and training from an inspirational local volunteer—our neighborhood team leader, Judith.
Q. Which of the President’s accomplishments from the last three years particularly stand out to you?
Joni: His commitment to women’s issues, the stimulus package, ending the war in Iraq, the Affordable Care Act …
Gene: I worked as an AARP volunteer to get health care reform passed during the first term of President Clinton. I was especially pleased with President Obama’s leadership in getting the Affordable Care Act through Congress.
Julie: No one in an affluent country like ours should have to worry about health care—it should be equally available to senators and janitors.
Q. What’s at stake in this election?
Gene: The Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United suggests a future path to plutocracy if we do not re-elect President Obama.
Joni: Supreme Court appointments! Plus, economic opportunities for the middle class—I feel like the current Republican trend is to gut the programs that provide assistance to those in need.
Julie: Getting the economy back on track through so much adversity has taken a great deal of courage. It took many years to create the mess we were in when he took office—it obviously can’t be rectified with a snap of the fingers. Many people complain that it has been too slow or too little, but President Obama has held his head high and stayed the course. We have to move forward.
Q. How does your family influence your work on the campaign?
Gene: My children inspire me. I feel obligated to work as a volunteer in this important campaign for the future of my family and our country.
Julie: My inspiration for volunteering in the Obama campaign is also my family. I have two beautiful, independent, dynamic daughters, and a young granddaughter. Women are still unequal in America—for them, I wish fairness and equality.
I have a son who is an officer in the United States Navy, and two young grandsons. For them, I wish appreciation and opportunity.
I have aging parents and parents-in-law. For them, I wish retirement security.
And for my husband and me: I want peace of mind that our efforts in saving and investing for retirement will pay off! I truly believe that the Obama administration is leading the way toward making these wishes a reality.
Joni: I enjoy working with my dad and my sister. I have endless love and respect for both of them. We’ve always been a very close family, and working with them on President Obama’s re-election campaign has been an honor.
My mom is not able to be involved at this point in her life, and my other sister and brother would like to be more involved as well, but don’t have the time right now—so how cool is it that Julie, Dad, and I can represent the whole family and work to get this done?
Help Julie, Joni, and Gene deliver a win for President Obama—sign up to volunteer in your community.