Parkland Mayor Experiences Iowa Caucus Firsthand, On The Road For Buttigieg

Feb 4, 2020

The first results from last night's Iowa Caucus — nearly a day late — show former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders fighting for first place in the state's Democratic contest for the White House.

People from all over the United States traveled to the midwestern state to help raise support for their candidates, including Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky.

She was in Ankeny, Iowa, Monday night as a volunteer and observer for Buttigieg's campaign. She publicly endorsed Buttigieg following the debates in Miami last June. 

The Iowa Democratic Party blames the delay on a "coding issue" in a smartphone app used in this year's process.  

The party released results starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

WLRN spoke with Hunschofsky about her experience Tuesday, after her flight home to South Florida. 

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length. 

WLRN: What was your experience at the caucus like? Not many Floridians get to do that. 

Hunschofsky: I was there as a volunteer and as an observer, and so I helped direct people to the right place to go to register, change their voter registration. 

Then, I was in the gymnasium while the caucus itself was taking place. It was interesting just to see people on their first choice, you know, go to their area of the candidate and then they went through the counting process to see how many people were behind each candidate. 

What I thought was so fascinating about it is people were very open about their votes and who they supported. So it was very transparent.

I think because you have to own it so publicly and in front of other people, I think people really do their homework before they go and caucus. 

I mean, it's a commitment. You have to be there in the evening. You're standing for a lot of the time. Some of the issues with that, though, make it harder for people who may be older or can't stand for long periods of time. People who work at night. Those become sort of barriers to caucusing. 

We got there around 5 p.m. and I left just before 9 p.m. The caucus itself took place from 7 p.m. and it was pretty much over around 9, 9:15 p.m.

Did you see, while you were there observing, any problems or precursors of these technical issues? 

I was actually surprised hearing about [the issues] afterward. 

The place I was at, Ankeny, it was extremely well organized. Everybody had a wristband. You had a blue wristband if you were able and allowed to caucus and you had a green wristband if you were an observer or someone not allowed to caucus.

So it was very clear who was there to caucus and who was there just to volunteer, observe. And the counts went by flawlessly. 

All the people from the various campaigns were all working extremely well together. We had all the counts.

For me, it seems like the issue that came up last night is the paperwork is there, but there was some issue with transmitting it through the app. Everything was documented, everything was written down. There was some issue transmitting information through the app, but the information was there. There was a paper trail... we do know what the votes are. 

You have been an outspoken supporter of Mayor Pete since the South Florida debates last June. Why do you support Mayor Pete? Does his stance on gun control factor into your endorsement of him, particularly given what happened in Parkland almost two years ago? 

My support of Mayor Pete is for many reasons. Obviously, I have to agree with some of his policies, but mainly with Pete, it's his intelligence. He surrounds himself with bright people and people from all different experiences in life so that he can come up with the best policies. So while it is his policies, it is also his type of leadership. That's really what drew me to him.

For me, publicly supporting Pete was about supporting someone who I believe in, who represents the type of leadership I want to see. That was really much more what my endorsement was all about. 

Read More: Democratic Candidate Pete Buttigieg Fundraises In Miami, Makes Pitch To South Florida Voters

What are you going to take away from the caucus experience?

It was great to see it up front and up close, as somebody in the government myself. And it was really remarkable to see how the polls didn't really show what we were kind of seeing on the ground.

We actually had several people from Florida up there volunteering just to be part of this process that so many of us are unfamiliar with.