A Political Partnership

They connected in their first year at Sarah Lawrence. A decade later, Michael Pollock ’09 was running Neil Makhija’s bid for the Pennsylvania Legislature.

A Political Partnership

Michael Pollock ’09 and Neil Makhija ’09 don’t agree on the origin story of their working together. They can agree they became friends during their first year at Sarah Lawrence. But from there, their stories diverge. Makhija tells people Pollock ran his campaign for class president. Pollock’s take? “I might have helped make some buttons for him,” he says.

Yet when Makhija decided to run for a seat in the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, Pollock chose to help out his old friend again. After a few visits from New York City, where Pollock was working as a freelance writer and on the staff of a small literary magazine, One Story, he moved to Carbon County in eastern Pennsylvania to become Makhija’s campaign coordinator.

“Rather than the job being part of my life, my life is part of the job. It’s a skill to know when to go see a movie, go to the gym, know when to stop working.”

“The job is making sure Neil can follow up with the hundreds of people he meets to better serve his community,” Pollock says.

Working on campaigns was not part of Pollock’s career vision—he studied writing at Sarah Lawrence—but, he says: “I should have seen it coming being friends with Neil. He’s always been very dedicated to public service.” Pollock considers his candidate a natural when it comes to meeting people. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in a room where he didn’t shake everybody’s hand,” he says. “I’m not that person.”

Instead, Pollock takes care of all the essentials necessary to run a political campaign, like making call lists, organizing volunteers, and filing finance reports on time. “Rather than the job being part of my life, my life is part of the job,” he says. “It’s a skill to know when to go see a movie, go to the gym, know when to stop working.”

Though Pollock says working on a campaign is pretty much an immersion course in political how-tos, his experience at the literary magazine provided a solid foundation. “At the beginning phases of a campaign, it’s pretty much a nonprofit [organization],” he says. The job? “Making sure a small, yet-to-be-well-funded organization can make a difference and get its wheels turning.”

And that means there’s not a whole lot of time to think about life after the election. Pollock knows he’s going to head back to his home state of California, but he doesn’t think he’ll hop onto another campaign. “I am here because of my connection with Neil,” he says, “but I guess I’ll have to wait until 2018 to find that out.”

The enthusiasm in his voice makes it clear that, long hours and all, politics energizes Pollock. At the end of each busy day on the campaign trail, he says, “It’s hard to let go.”