Meet Barb Sackman

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson

Barb Sackman is a teacher who lives in Fallon, Montana, a town of 150 people.  On Thursday night, she’ll be backstage when Barack Obama gives his acceptanct speech.

I asked her to tell me about herself, and what she sees in Barack that led her to support him.  Here she answers, in her own words:

I have always had an interest in politics due to my dad.  He would watch the Sunday morning political news programs and talk politics with his neighbors.  My first memory of being politically “active” was the 1980 Presidential election.  I was a second grader, and we held a classroom election.  At the end of the day, I realized that I was the only one in my class that had voted for Jimmy Carter.  What I didn’t know then was that I was from a staunch Republican community.

I grew up as a working farm girl.  My dad had three daughters, so we were his best hope for farm hands.  My parents raised corn for silage, alfalfa, sugar beets, and beef cattle.  The terms “farm bill”, “NAFTA”, and “sugar act” were always floating around the kitchen table when neighbors stopped in for a soda pop.

Now I am married to a wheat and cattle producer in the same community I was raised.  I have watched our community dwindle to a place where ranches are purchased by hunters instead of ranchers because no one can afford to expand or start from scratch.  This year marks the first in 40 plus years that not a single sugar beet was planted in our community because the rising fuel costs made freight too costly for profit.  The school in which I teach has shrunk from 90 high schoolers when I graduated 17 years ago to 35. We are struggling!  I so desperately want my two children to experience the wonders of childhood on a farm like I was afforded, but it is becoming extremely hard to make it work.

I have been so pleased with Senator Obama’s attention to the worries of people like me.  He has paid special attention to family farmers and has laid out ideas that he believes can make a difference. He wants to jump start the production of bio-fuels not only to boost our rural economies, but also because he cares about our environment.

I’m not sure what I will say to him when I meet him…I don’t know how much time I will have to visit with him.  I will try to reiterate the plight of rural America and show my gratitude for his care and concern,  I am so thrilled that I will have the opportunity to do so.

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2 Responses to “Meet Barb Sackman”

  1. This is a good letter. When I read letters like this, I know why I’ve been volunteering and donating, and fighting this fight.

  2. Bravo, Barb.  I’ll be thinking about you as I watch the speech from my perch in the stadium –wishing you a wonderful evening.  All of us at RuralVotes are thrilled that you’ll have that opportunity too! 

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