Bridget Callaghan-Kane, Broome County’s newly elected chair of the Broome County Democratic Committee, is aiming to build a stronger relationship between the Broome County community and the students at both Binghamton University and Broome Community College (BCC) by bringing young people into the world of local politics.
Callaghan-Kane is a native of Brooklyn, New York, and moved to Owego with her family 15 years ago. She became involved in local politics after volunteering with the Tioga County Democratic Committee for a political science course she was taking at BCC. She has served as president, and currently serves as vice president, of the Democratic Women of Broome County and as chair and vice chair of the New York State Federation of Democratic Women.
After her candidacy in the 2018 midterm election, Callaghan-Kane said she immediately got in contact with Democratic student groups, such as BU’s College Democrats, to discuss ways to build a strong relationship between students and to get more young people involved in the conversations around building those relationships.
“I truly appreciate the students in this area,” Callaghan-Kane said. “I just love their energy. I love their intelligence, I love everything about them. I love to be surrounded by them. I think they’re our greatest assets, quite frankly.”
Callaghan-Kane aims to build these relationships by starting conversations between students and the community, and said a basic understanding of each group’s needs is necessary to those relationships being successful.
“How do we get to know each other unless we sit down and talk to each other?” Callaghan-Kane said. “The best way of building relationships is to actually speak — tell each other what we need and what our hopes and dreams are. It’s not that difficult to forge these relationships, you just have to be willing to reach out, and I am.”
Timothee Markbreiter, president of College Democrats at BU and a sophomore majoring in political science, said they are working to have Callaghan-Kane come speak to the club soon.
“We’ve had many local politicians come speak to our club about issues affecting the area [and] we’ve run events to get students registered to vote in the Binghamton area,” Markbreiter said.
Callaghan-Kane said she wants to start working on internship programs, both paid and unpaid, as ways to introduce students to local politics and community activism. By inspiring an interest in community activism, Callaghan-Kane also hopes to build a strong relationship with the students in the area.
“I went down to Brooklyn a couple of years ago when Hillary [Clinton] was running, and I went down to her office down there and she was surrounded by young people all over the place on their laptops and the energy and knowledge and what they were doing — it was infectious,” Callaghan-Kane said. “I want that here. I want that relationship. It can’t be one way — you can’t just call someone when you need something from them. We need to have a relationship. We need to keep the lines of communication open always.”
In her nominating speech for her new position, Callaghan-Kane talked about the work she has done in local elections and how her Democratic values have shaped her life and her work.
“Under my leadership in the town of Union, we raised money and [were] able, for the first time in many years, to do a very nice mailing into the town for our candidates, Rick Materese, Heather Staley and Lori Wahila,” Callaghan-Kane said. “In addition, I worked very hard organizing door-knocking canvases for these three, as well as the legislative candidates in the town, our Supreme Court candidate, Anthony Brindisi, Donna Lupardo and our Johnson City Trustee candidate, Ben Reynolds. My record shows that my commitment to our Democratic principles is total.”
When asked about the work that she will be doing for the county with her new role, Callaghan-Kane said although she has a higher position now, she still makes a point of staying involved with base level operations.
“Now, my main responsibility is to get good Democratic candidates to run and to raise money, but that doesn’t stop me from doing some hard work either,” Callaghan-Kane said. “I do a lot of the grunt work — phone calls, banking, stuffing envelopes, [sending] postcards, knocking on doors, canvasing, dropping off lawn signs for people that want them. [This new role] won’t stop me from doing that stuff because I like helping candidates in that way as well.”