New Jersey Democratic Operative Constantina Meis is now the Executive Vice President of the national Young Democrats of America. For Meis, the new role means the chance to ensure that voters under 35 years old “have a place at the table” and have a say in the “issues that impact them.”
“I feel excited, I feel very hopeful,” said Meis, who lives in Bergenfield. “I actively wanted to engage and bring people from all walks of life to be active and civically engaged. I always felt like I could make an impact with the youth.”
Meis, 33, started campaigning for her new role in early April and this weekend at the organization’s conference in Los Angeles, that campaigning paid off. Meis and members of her group Empower Young Democrats—Louis Elrod (president), Danielle Glover, Kristina Contreras Fox, Daniel Sims (vice presidents), Quentin Wathum-Ocama (secretary) and Drew Pollum (treasurer)—were sworn is as the organization’s leaders on Saturday.
“We travelled to over 36 states, maybe more than that,” Meis told PolitickerNJ about the months leading up to the Lost Angeles convention. “We wanted to reenergize people so they would know us and know our work ethic. We campaigned like a national campaign would.”
According to Meis, the six months leading up to her election included trips all over the U.S. including road trips to Oklahoma and throughout New England. “Through our campaign efforts we traveled to almost every region. We got a sense of what we could do to serve the states better.”
Looking forward, Meis says that she and the rest of the leadership team will focus on fostering a sense of community among young voters. Additionally, Meis believes that in her role she can help strengthen state chapters, win back congressional seats for Democrats and create a strategic plan that will extend beyond the 2016 election.
“I also want us to sit at the table at the Democratic National Committee,” Meis said. “We already have a good relationship with them, it is just now a matter of continuing to build that relationship, making sure there is a youth plan for victory.”
Meis is the first New Jersey resident since 1985 to hold her position. She says she is “excited” to bring this role to her home state.
“It is exciting to be able to make sure that New Jersey has a role,” Meis said. “New Jersey has always been seen as an important state within the democratic party.”
According to Meis, the support from New Jersey Democrats of her election has been strong.
“There have been so many people who have reached out to me already,” she said. “I have heard from Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. New Jersey Democratic State Committee Chairman John Currie is excited. I have heard from other local elected officials, but also people I have known for years who are not elected who are organizers. Thirty people from New Jersey traveled to Los Angeles to represent.”
“Young Democrats of America continue to help the Democratic Party empower the next generation of political and government leaders,” said Chairman Currie. “I know Constantina Meis from her work on our last few elections, and I have every confidence in her ability to help Democratic candidates throughout the country.”
“I am proud of the work that young Democrats are doing in New Jersey and, through efforts in the Young Democrats of America, throughout the country. It is encouraging to see New Jersey’s young Democrats taking on leadership positions that will help shape issues important to the Democratic Party,” added Currie.
Meis said that Empower Young Democrats had a team of 20 people from all over the country helping in their election. In New Jersey, Meis said that consultants Marshall Spevak, Archange Antoine, and Koren Frankfort were critical to her campaign.
Meis has been involved with the Young Democrats Association in 2009 when she was the organization’s national committee representative for New Jersey. In 2008, she worked as a statewide deputy for Barack Obama’s campaign in New Jersey. She also worked as a field operative in Congressman Bill Pascrell’s 2012 campaign and for the 2012 Menendez campaign.
According to Meis, the role of young people in politics is a matter of critical importance.
“A lot of the policies today are going to affect us as we get older,” Meis said. “By encouraging young people to be engaged, they can take care of their own destiny and be able to mold that.”