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India Walton supporters: 'It's time for change'

'I think people didn't think that an all-volunteer campaign could pull something like this off,' said Eve Shippens, the field director for Walton's campaign.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — “When we organize, we win," said India Walton, the 38-year-old Democratic primary winner, a progressive, and a socialist.

“I care about people, and I believe resources should go to working-class people and families,” Walton said.

But behind every successful candidate is a successful team. 2 On Your Side spoke to a few volunteers with Walton's grassroots campaign.

"I think people didn't think that an all-volunteer campaign could pull something like this off," said Eve Shippens, the field director for the campaign. 

Shippens said she's known Walton for about seven years, and she's seen her advocate for several issues, such as safe and affordable housing and criminal justice reform.

"I just couldn't wait to support somebody who had really come out for these issues time after time after time, over years," Shippens said. 

Shippens also believes a strength of the volunteer team is its diversity.

"We had people from all different walks of life," Shippens said. "All different income levels, all different education levels, all different kinds of backgrounds, ethnicities, regions."

Added Lauren Turner, a volunteer with the Walton Campaign: "I think there was just time for change. Sure, the City of Buffalo has developed on the outside, the perimeter, but the inner city has really been neglected." 

Turner told 2 on Your Side she was elated when news broke that Walton had won the Democratic primary in the race for Buffalo mayor Tuesday night.

"This is kind of a nice twinkle of a moment where it's possible that change can happen, if you really believe and put the work in," Turner said.

Volunteers said as a nurse, community organizer, and single mother, some people could relate to Walton in a way they hadn't before with a mayoral candidate. 

"One of the things that her and I did have in common was being single mothers of young black men in the city, and I definitely feel strongly about her point about holding police accountable," said Venessa Warner, a volunteer with the campaign. 

Warner added, "With a lot of the different issues that we saw happening not only here but around the country, it was really time to just see our city move forward and maybe get someone who had different ideas of how to move our city forward collectively." 

Shippens told 2 on Your Side, "When I started this campaign I was like, 'I'm in it win or lose,' but I think that after all the energy of the protests last year, after everything that families suffered with COVID, I think people were really open to change in a way that they haven't been before." 

However, work is not over for these volunteers. Shippens explained they want to continue to get Walton's name out there, and give her an opportunity to hear from the people and listen to their concerns before likely taking office.

"Now we are truly the Queen City," Warner said.

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