Election Day 2015 was a stellar success for two Keuka College graduates. Aileen McNabb-Coleman ’00 and Tom Drumm ’15 both won seats in the Cayuga and Oswego county legislatures, respectively.
Running on the Democrat, Independent and Working Family lines, Mc-Nabb-Coleman defeated opponent Joseph Runkle, to win a four-year term in Cayuga’s 6th District seat. Meanwhile, Drumm, who ran on the Democratic and Women’s Equality lines for Oswego’s 16thDistrict seat, defeated Republican opponent James Scanlon and will serve a two-year term. At Keuka College, McNabb-Coleman earned a degree in unified childhood/special education while Drumm earned degrees in political science and history and organizational communication.
“I believe strongly in engagement and participation in local government,” said McNabb-Coleman “Due to the climate of the national stage of politics, I find that citizens are disengaged; couple that with having busy careers and family life, and it is difficult to increase awareness.”
So she did something about it.
“When I finally decided to run for county legislator, what drove me was the idea of setting our county on a new fiscally responsible path so that my children could enjoy the fruits of our labor—and representing women on a 15-member, all male, county legislature,” said McNabb-Coleman, who used the phrase “Run Like a Girl” in her campaign signs to reinforce her position.
Drumm said he ran on a message of “new energy and new blood” at the county level. He started getting that message out about six months ago when he launched his campaign and sticking to it proved effective, he said.
“I think those in the county are craving new leadership,” Drumm said. “I discussed that we seem to have become stagnant, whether in social issues or some economic areas as well.”
Drumm’s campaign got a boost the Sunday before Election Day from six political science and history majors at Keuka College who traveled to Oswego with Dr. Angela Narasimhan, assistant professor of political science and history. After convening briefly at the union hall for Oswego’s UA Local 73 to hear from Drumm about his platform, the group picked up campaign literature and set out to help Drumm make door-to-door visits.
“It was huge how that team helped me cover my entire district in a day,” Drumm said. “My opponent was a lifelong resident in the city, raised a family and he’s lived here probably 45 years, and sometimes that works to people’s advantage. I’m fresh out of college and it can take a lot to establish a coalition. The big thing is the final push – you have to turn out the vote. To get a push like that from students who traveled two hours to Oswego to help knock on doors for a campaign like mine – I’m in debt to them. I’m so grateful.”
According to Dr. Narasimhan, three of the students had never met Tom and several were interested in getting involved politically back home so they were eager to hear his story and his advice.
“He used each Field Period™ experience and his major to explore different avenues, and was able to tell my students about the connections he made and how he found an office to run for,” Dr. Narasimhan said, describing how Drumm learned from local party leaders the strategy they envisioned for him to win an open seat. The canvassing experience “absolutely” aligned with the College’s focus on experiential learning, she added.
During his time as a student, Drumm conducted separate Field Period™ experiences with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.) and the NYS Democratic Committee. He also completed his senior practicum with Doug Lippincott, Keuka College’s executive director of grants, government relations and compliance. Some of the individuals he met became mentors, Drumm said.
“It’s very rewarding to see it all pay off – it’s exciting, and honestly, it’s a little overwhelming,” Drumm said, attributing his win to “not only how much I’ve learned but the amazing people I met during college —professors like Drs. Narasimhan, Chris Leahy, David Leon—who gave me the confidence and knowledge to be able to make a political run at 22.”
Both Drumm and McNabb-Coleman will be sworn into their new offices in early January.
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series of Q&As with new, full-time faculty members. Today, meet three of Keuka’s new additions.
Dr. David Pak Leon, assistant professor of political science, teaches International Relations, Political Development in Asia, and Globalization.
Last book read: Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson.
Favorite quote: “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,” by George Orwell.
If you could be a fictional character, who would be and why? I can’t really think of a fictional character that I would like to be.
What makes teaching fun? It is always fun and interesting when I see students grow in knowledge throughout a semester. I enjoy lively discussions in and outside the classroom when different perspectives are presented. It is also nice when students tell me what they are learning and reading on their own, or when they bring in relevant outside materials or their own experiences that enrich our collective understanding of different issues. Seeing eager and engaged students makes teaching rewarding.
What do you do for fun? I enjoy listening to music and reading (politics, history, architecture, economics, and finance). I like browsing bookstores and antique shops, and biking.
Sunny Winstead of Burdett, N.Y., assistant professor of occupational therapy, is teaching classes in occupational therapy assessment and intervention for older adults.
Last book read: Other than a textbook? Maybe a Ruth Rendell mystery, but unfortunately it’s been awhile!
Favorite quote: You’ll never be sorry for taking the high road.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be, and why? Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books. She’s smart, inventive, and brave. Plus, I’d love to have a Time-Turner so I could be in two places at once!
What makes teaching fun? Collaborating with students and seeing their confidence grow as they move toward clinical practice.
What do you do for fun? I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, gardening, and hiking.
Dr. Jason McKinney of Penfield, assistant professor of social work, is teaching a number of classes this year, including Youth Services Delivery, Research Methods, Ethics and Diversity, and Field Practicum.
Last book read: Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness, by Scott Jurek.
Favorite quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” Mahatma Gandhi
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be, and why?:Cookie Monster. I wish I could eat junk food all day and never gain a pound!
What makes teaching fun? Students make teaching fun! I love the interactive part of teaching, such as class discussion or learning activities designed to connect theory and practice.
What do you do for fun? I play guitar, ukulele, and percussion. I run, garden, lift weights, and study Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Coming Monday: Three more Q&A profiles of new, full-time faculty members.