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his employees, which extended beyond the office into the

living quarters for Troiano, Ruth and other staffers on the

floors above the campaign office.

All of their advertisements and big campaign plans

were created within the walls of their small office

with three other individuals. With a slogan of taking

Congress “Back to the Future,” they spent the campaign

season traveling to events in an old-school 1981


“Many see the news or talk with others and hear

that our government is ‘broken’ and think that politics

is meaningless,” says Ruth. “But when I wake up every

morning, I know that I am actively working hard to

change that sentiment and bring to our district, and our

nation, a paradigm shift in how the political process


Both candidates spent considerable time preparing for

debates, which are crucial to gaining support. Vollman

witnessed Marino’s debate preparations first-hand,

gathering with the candidate and other staffers in his

home for three days to pound out their position on key


“Even with our countless successful meetings and

events, we knew Troiano was gaining support in spite of

his smaller-scale campaign,” Vollman said. “So when it

was time for the face-to-face debate, the campaign staff

took nothing for granted.”

Although Marino won re-election, Troiano managed

to capture 13 percent of the vote — more than three

times the average and higher than any of the 96

independent congressional candidates in the country

who ran in 2014. An impressive end to both campaigns.

“The political science department, especially

Dr. Williamson, had a huge influence on me,” said

Vollman. “Throughout the campaign, I felt prepared to

perform all of my duties because of the skills he and my

other professors had cultivated in me.”

Vollman is currently looking into graduate school

and Ruth works at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of

Commerce (USHCC), a national trade organization

in Washington, D.C., and plans to pursue a master’s

degree in public administration and policy this fall at

American University.

This past November, the regional election for a U.S.

representative in the heart of Pennsylvania garnered

national attention when a young, independent candidate

set his sights on toppling the republican incumbent.

Independent Nick Troiano, the youngest candidate to

run for office in 2014, took on Republican Tom Marino

’85, who has served as the U.S. Representative for the 10


Congressional District since 2011.

The national hype was spurred in part by the political

savvy learned by three of the key players as former

Lycoming students. Alumnus Marino and his rival were

each backed by strong campaign advocates who also had

graduated from the college. Matt Ruth ’14, director of

outreach for Troiano, and Elizabeth Vollman ’14, a good

friend of Ruth and political director for Marino, worked

diligently behind the scenes to support their respective


As director of advance and outreach, Ruth managed

Troiano’s daily schedule and coordinated travel and

logistical details of meetings and events, often in concert

with local organizations. He also coordinated incoming

and outgoing correspondence between the campaign and


“Our generation has grown up into a century where

our Congress is the oldest, most accepting of special

interest monies, and holds the highest public disapproval

rating,” said Ruth. “I wanted to join a team where I could

be a contributing member to invoke a change to politics.”

Working for the opposing campaign, Elizabeth

Vollman managed the campaign office and coordinated

local campaign events. Between traveling to events with

Marino, she also helped with volunteer recruitment,

outreach and management.

“With such a strong Republican base in the 10th

District, we did not have to work as hard as Troiano

to find and maintain support within the district,” said

Vollman. “The strong existing Republican Party network

in the area allowed us to tap into their resources and

volunteers to augment our own.”

Because Troiano refused to accept funds from special

interest groups, his citizen-funded campaign operated

on a much smaller scale than Marino’s. That meant

Troiano had a much more personal relationship with