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My Name Is... Mike Cornelius

Professional political petitioner has faith in human decency


Pounding the pavement

I'm a petitioner for Strategic Initiatives. Political campaigns hire the company to collect signatures on petitions, and people like me are I-9 independent contractors. Many of the things we vote on in Colorado have to be signed onto the ballot, so these petitions give people more choices. As petitioners, we don't care how you vote, we just want you to have as many options as possible so you can look that stuff up and make the proper decisions.

We get paid per signature. For the three campaigns I'm working on today, I'll get between 75 cents and $1.50 per signature. I can make $30 or $40 a day. I'm gunning for 35 signatures today. There are seven congressional districts in Colorado, and we need signatures from all seven to get these proposed amendments on the ballot.

Bad rap

Sometimes petitioners get a bad rap, because you'll have some who just pass their clipboards around to drunks in a parking lot. Some will try to draw people in with a fake petition, maybe to legalize marijuana somewhere where it's not actually being considered. Then they'll try to get you to sign the rest. But you'll find corruption in any job.

Ramblin' man

This is a seasonal job. I work for Amazon around Christmas, and I also harvest crops on farms in the fall. I live in my car and travel around. I'm here this month, but in the summer I'll be in the mountains where it's cooler.

I started doing this after the 2016 presidential election. I felt it was time to get active in politics. My mom was really politically active — she was always dating a politician or something like that. We were always out there on picket lines, holding up signs. My mom would have me climb out on exit signs on the interstates to hang political banners.

On the front lines

I do this because petitions are the front lines of grassroots politics. If we had more people out here doing this, we could take back the country from the powers that be.

The world is a good place full of good people. I live out of my car, and I have no fear of people robbing me. I've been in bad neighborhoods, but I never have trouble with people.

If you have suggestions for My Name Is, please contact David Gilbert at dgilbert@coloradocommunitymedia.com.


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