Corey Scott is from coal country.
His stepdad sells machinery for a major supplier to coal mines. His mother is a schoolteacher. Politics run in his family. His grandfather was a county administrator in his hometown of Wise, Virginia. Population: 3,296. Graduating class: 180.
He’s seen firsthand how politicians have come in and affected his community, where coal mining is the major industry. As a newly declared freshman political science major, Scott has spent countless hours knocking on doors, making phone calls and campaigning for Mitt Romney.
His grandfather was a member of the first Young Republicans decades ago, so it wasn’t a surprise when Scott immediately became involved on campus with the College Republicans. His high school government class was his favorite, and he often discusses politics with complete strangers. He has found his niche here in Blacksburg.
Scott’s hometown of Wise County is tucked away in the farthest corner of southwest Virginia. It shares a border with West Virginia, and is in the heart of Appalachia. It was built from the ground up around coal.
Several of Scott's friends chose not to go to college, and head straight to the mines.
“When it flourished back in the day, people wanted to live in Wise County,” Scott said.
All of that has changed since Obama's taken office and more regulations on the industry have passed, making it harder for coal towns like Wise to thrive. The poverty rate in Wise has skyrocketed to almost 20 percent. Suddenly, businesses like that of Scott's step-father were struggling to stay afloat and the group of Scott’s friends that decided to forego college to work in the mines were already being laid off.
Scott believes Mitt Romney has the best plan for coal, and will benefit his town the most.
“Romney wants to harvest the coal industry and take advantage of the natural resources we have,” he said.
This could create jobs for his hometown, and bring money back to an area that is economically struggling
“They’re proud of what they do; these are third generation miners,” Scott said, his passion evidence in his voice. “They want to be working hard to support their families. They don’t want the government to pay them."
Volunteering five days a week for the past eight weeks, Scott has jumped head-first into the campaign.
“It’s been a fun process. The more involved you get, the more firsthand experience you get seeing how the political process works,” Scott said.
Meeting people and educating them has been the primary goal Scott has set for himself.
“Its nice to go out and meet people and really inform people who desire to be informed,” he said.
As a first-time voter, Scott tries to stress the importance of this election, and how politics affect students' life. No matter whom you’re voting for, becoming informed and educated is always a priority for him.
“It’s our right and privilege to vote,” Scott said.
After campaigning for days, all of Scott’s hard work had finally paid off.
He had the honor of being a greeter at the Roanoke rally Mitt Romney held on Friday, where he got to meet and talk with the former Massachusetts governor about the work he had been doing in Blacksburg.
“Romney thanked me for everything I was doing, and said that the grassroots effort going on is what’s making this election possible for him,” Scott said.
Suddenly, Scott’s mission couldn’t be clearer: work hard to get Romney elected. The College Republicans will be doing voter outreach and working the polls, trying to talk to as many people as they can before the election is over with.
Even as election season draws to a close, Scott is already looking ahead. The madness will start again on Nov. 8 when campaigning for the gubernatorial race begins.
Whether Romney wins or loses, Scott’s passion and dedication has been a testament to his Appalachian roots, knowing everything he’s doing is helping his hometown friends.
“What I’ve gained out of this experience and the friends I’ve made, I know it all won’t be wasted,” Scott said.
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