With less than seven weeks to go before Election Day on Nov. 3, Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto‘s campaign is looking for a full-time field director to get out the vote.
The job call posted earlier this week requires “flexibility to work weekends and long hours” and at least one election cycle of field experience. The director will oversee “canvassing or lit drops, phone banking, text banking for persuasion, and turnout efforts, with special attention to digital outreach in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The job is mostly remote, but Pinto is asking that applicants live in D.C. She’s offering a $2,400 monthly salary, an amount that local pols and campaign staffers say is out of step with similar positions. Even LL makes more than that.
Morgan Finkelstein, a former staffer on Jordan Grossman‘s unsuccessful Ward 2 campaign, pointed out the modest sum on Twitter this week. She and other campaign staffers tell LL that a field director in a contested race typically earns twice the amount Pinto is offering.
Pinto won the special election to fill the Ward 2 seat after Jack Evans resigned. She also won the June 2 Democratic primary and now faces three challengers in the General Election. Neighborhood commissioner Randy Downs and nonprofit worker/disc jockey Martin Miguel Fernandez are running as independents. Peter Bolton joins the race as the Statehood Green Party nominee. In deep-blue D.C., the smart money is on Pinto on Nov. 3.
“I saw the posting and it’s concerning that she would pay this wage while requiring that they live in the District,” Downs writes in a text. “It shows how out of touch she is with the struggles and realities of the cost of living that people face in this city. It looks like she’s scrambling to be competitive.”
Downs says he hired a field director in August at $4,000 per month.
Janeese Lewis George, the Democratic nominee for the Ward 4 Council seat, paid her field director Leslie Bentley $4,400 a month during her primary campaign, according to George’s campaign finance filings. Ed Lazere, who is running as an independent for an at-large Council seat in the general election, says he’s paying his field director $5,200 per month.
Pinto says in an email that “all positions are paid commensurate with experience,” but she started by offering $15 an hour with flexible hours and because the position is remote. (A 40-hour work week at $15 an hour amounts to $2,400 per month.)
“Our campaign is fully committed to providing opportunities for involvement at all levels,” she writes. “While many campaigns and other political internships often offer zero pay, we pledged to pay all of our interns at an hourly rate from the very beginning of this campaign. We remain committed to providing opportunities for involvement in the political process with very flexible hours and work hard to ensure we pay our small team.”
Pinto’s campaign has raked in a total of $152,331 in contributions for the primary and general elections. She’s spent $130,963, and had $21,368 in the bank as of Aug. 10.
Campaign workers are known for being underpaid and overworked, but a push to unionize campaign staffs in recent years has started gain traction. The Campaign Workers Guild founded in 2017 has helped campaign staffers across the country negotiate for higher pay and benefits. Several presidential campaign staffs unionized in 2020.
CWG vice president Julia Ackerly says $2,400 per month for a field director sounds low. Her organization is pushing for salary floors in the $3,000 to $4,000 range for entry-level campaign positions.