Anna Payne is an elected delegate for Bernie Sanders from Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District. She works for a credit union. Anna lives in Middletown Township, Bucks County with her mom and stepdad, a dog and a cat.
DocJess: When did you decide you wanted to be a delegate?
Anna Payne: Back in 2012, I watched the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, and thought it was very interesting and cool, and I was curious about the people on the floor and the roles they played. I thought that to get there, you’d have to know someone. I was in college majoring in Political Science, and one of my courses had a class about delegates, what they do and what the different processes were in various states to become a delegate. I learned that most of the delegates are pledged to a candidate. I started doing research on how the process works here in Pennsylvania. It’s a long process, but I knew I was up to the challenge!
I worked on the Obama Campaign in 2012 and joined my local Democratic Party in 2014. I stayed involved with the committee and once I found out that 2016 convention was to be held in Philadelphia, I thought “that’s perfect” and I knew I had to try to become a delegate.
DJ: What made you decide to become a Bernie Sanders delegate?
AP: Bernie was a no-brainer for me. He’s my guy. I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008, I thought then that Obama was the better candidate, but I looked at both Sanders and Clinton. I had been following Bernie on Facebook before he became a candidate, and once he announced, I thought that he had better ideas than she did on the issues that matter to me. I could tell he really cares, for him this wasn’t a career move, this was for the future. When he talks, he talks from the heart, he actually gives a damn. He wants to change the system, he is honest, and he has integrity and that is refreshing.
DJ: Did you go to the Sanders organizing meeting?
AP: I missed the Philadelphia meeting because it snowed, and then when they rescheduled it, I had to work. But I had already gone to the Pennsylvana Democratic Committee meeting in Doylestown in December explaining how people could become delegates. They covered information about petitions, signatures and the whole process. So I went online and applied with the state, and I also filled out an application on the Sanders campaign website. I wasn’t taking any chances, so I also sent a letter to the Vermont headquarters. The campaign approved me after both my application and receiving my information passed on by the state.
DJ: How was running for delegate?
AP: First I had to get on the ballot. Once I found out that the time for signatures was only two-and-a-half weeks, I thought, “You want me to do what? I work a full time job.” I hosted a signing party at my house that I advertised via social media, and that was a big help. Plus, I went to different Democratic meetings and house parties. I couldn’t have gotten the signatures I needed without the help of my family and friends. All the Bernie delegates for our district also worked together to help each other out, without their assistance. I don’t know if I would have obtained the magic number needed in time. Luckily none of my signatures were challenged. In my CD, I don’t think either campaign challenged anyone, and that the campaigns were really fair to one another.
DJ: Did you campaign after getting on the ballot?
AP: I certainly did. I used Facebook, Twitter, other social media, recruited poll volunteers. I went to all sorts of Democratic meetings in the district, plus I worked through the Bernie campaign. Also, I became a Middletown Committeewoman.
DJ: You made it. Congratulations! What are you looking forward to at the convention?
AP: I’m very excited! This is my first convention. I look forward to playing a role in shaping the party, and the future of the party. Really having an impact on history and the future. Looking forward to everything since I’ve never done any of it before.
DJ: Are you going to vote for Hillary Clinton if she’s the candidate?
AP: I might vote for Hillary, I probably will, but the convention is not over yet. What will the platform ideas be that the party formally adopts? In order for people like me to feel our voices matter to the party, we need to see Bernie’s ideals adopted. The ones that we supported him for: Hillary has to reach out to us. She recently embraced part of Bernie’s idea for free college tuition. If she keeps trying to at least meet us halfway, and abandons her old ways, like big donors, then that will make people feel better about supporting the party in the fall.
DJ: I read today that Clinton came out for lowering the age for Medicare to 50 or 55 as part of Obamacare. Is that the sort of thing you mean?
AP: I would like to see a bigger step then lowering the age to 50, that doesn’t help me any. I have Cystic Fibrosis and that is why universal health care is so important for me. I get insurance through work, but I have a $6,000 deductible. For me, healthcare is a really big deal. I’m a fan of the Affordable Care Act since now I can’t be denied because I have Cystic Fibrosis, and there are no caps on insurance payments. The ACA does a lot of good but it doesn’t go far enough, and one of Bernie’s ideas is basically Medicare-for-all. The ACA does a lot of good things, but there are so many people left out. I lecture and fund-raise for Cystic Fibrosis organizations. I see so many people using Go Fund Me for lung transplants, people with Cystic Fibrosis who can’t get married because they’ll lose Medicaid. I’m currently receiving Medicaid as a supplement that I pay a premium for. I’m terrified to cap out wage wise, and I often wonder what would happen if I get married, as the Medicaid is my safety net. Somebody needs to do something about this, and it’s a big reason I support Bernie Sanders. He really understands.
DJ: Do you plan on staying involved with politics after the convention?
AP: Absolutely. I think it’s very important to get involved and stay involved: the only way that things will every change is if people get in involved, stay involved and stand up. I think people are more aware of primaries, caucuses, elections and candidates since this year’s elections season. I’m involved with CF: I make speeches and raise money, and I plan to do the same going forward with politics. You can’t just vote and think things will change, you cannot just sit on the sidelines. This fall I plan to work for candidates up and down the ticket.
DJ: Do you want to run for office?
AP: It’s a dream of mine. But a lot it depends on my health.
DJ: The convention costs are high. How are you covering them?
AP: I hadn’t realized how much it would cost or that I’d have to stay at the hotel. I’d planned on staying on a friend’s couch. I have a Go Fund Me account. I don’t have enough money yet, but I’m working on it. I was part of a Cystic Fibrosis fundraiser in June, and I’m hoping those donors will give to this, too.
DJ: What’s your Go Fund Me account?
DJ: Any final thoughts?
AP: Just to reiterate: don’t stay on the sidelines, get involved. I hope this election as taught us all to do our research about our candidates, I know our lives are busy but our future is important. As Americans we are lucky to be able to vote, and no the system is not perfect, but if more of us start to pay attention do our research and get involved we can make a huge difference.
See our full series of delegate interviews.