People crowd the walkway on both sides. A bus ahead blasts party music that has the crowd jumping. Emma Rohrbach walks forward holding a banner with the words “Spencer Toder” printed across it. The crowd screams as other members of the parade wave their signs around and Missouri Senate Candidate Spencer Toder runs to give high fives.
Rohrbach is at the St. Louis pride parade with the Spencer Toder Missouri Senate campaign. She had helped organize the group’s appearance there.
“It was impactful just because of how much we had to organize,” Rohrbach said. “We were in the pride parade and that was something I personally had never organized before.”
Rohrbach joined the campaign during April 2022. She said she wanted to get involved for the Aug. 2 primaries. Rohrbach is a political science and economics major.
She applied for a volunteer position after researching Toder’s campaign and policies. She was given an internship and later was added on as a part-time employee.
“I wanted to get started in this field as soon as I could,” Rohrbach said.
Once hired on, Rohrbach’s day usually started with a 10 a.m. meeting with the Toder team. She would then get a list of tasks to complete. Her job responsibilities included design, youth outreach, purchasing campaign materials and much more.
On the weekends Rohrbach would often go to events such as the St. Louis pride parade and rallies on various subjects. She said she would occasionally give impromptu speeches at these events.
“It is really reassuring to see so many people give support to candidates who have shared values to them,” Rohrbach said. “Especially for our campaign we had a lot of supporters who said they felt like they were left behind by politics and they didn’t have any politicians they felt were actually doing good work until seeing Spencer Toder on his campaign.”
Rohrbach is interested in continuing in the political field with a focus on policy instead of campaign. She said the most challenging aspect of campaign politics is how fast paced it can become. The benefits outweigh the challenges though, she said, and she feels like she has learned a lot from the experience.
“On a personal level it did make me very stressed but I think it did make me more hopeful which is a little strange,” Rohrbach said.
Toder came third in the Democratic primaries. Rohrbach has plans to continue working with Toder as they transition into a non-profit working with text banking and various other projects.
“I think politics in a general sense are important to me because of just how necessary I think they are for us to get things done,” Rohrbach said.