Volunteer Spotlight: Brian Sublett on utilizing his skills in politics

Volunteer Spotlight: Brian Sublett on utilizing his skills in politics

Why this tech expert downplayed his skills

By Lisa Stahr

When Brian Sublett volunteered for the Sonoma Dems, he didn’t exactly advertise his talents. “I preferred to let them decide what they needed me to do.”  

So Brian stuffed envelopes, wrote postcards, registered new voters, put stickers on slate cards and door hangers, and did phone banking and canvassing. He also agreed to join the data entry team where he was put to work entering new volunteer data into MOE, their online campaign tool. 

It was modest work for someone with a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a 34-year career in high tech, but “I was happy to do it…” 

Bringing Silicon Valley skills to our local elections

It was through Brian’s data entry work, though, that his technical skills became evident and he started getting more responsibility for managing different tools within MOE. “Gradually, I learned how to use the database part of it and that led to learning the other tools within it.”  

Today, Brian is the “MOE administrator,” managing the entire system.  When a campaign wants to do a phone bank, for example, Brian sets it up within MOE and then extracts the data from the calls for the campaigns to digest. Ditto for field canvassing efforts and newsletter and email blasts.  

And this year, when the Sonoma Dems wanted to start doing text banks for local candidates and the Yes on Measure P campaign, they turned to Brian to figure out how.  

“I took a class where I learned about the different types of text banks and the different tools that are available. The instructors recommended a program called Spoke, which is good for smaller campaigns like ours, so I researched that, figured out how it worked and how much it would cost, and helped put together a budget estimate for using it for the Measure P text campaign.” (As evidence of his commitment to getting it right, he also signed up to text for the Biden-Harris campaign just to get some experience at text banking himself.)

Now, Brian sets up text banks, trains the texters, and reports the results to the campaigns—“things like who requested lawn signs, who wants to volunteer, and how many people are being contacted.”

He credits the work he did in his career with making it easy for him to present the statistics from the different tools so that people can understand what’s happening in their campaigns. He also finds the work very gratifying.  

“This is a very important election and we don’t have a lot of other people who can do this kind of work—at least not yet—so it’s good to know Sonoma Dems can do things like local text banks because of my contribution.”

But he’s quick to add he’d like to find other technically minded people to help. This election may be near, but the work doesn’t stop after that—there are more elections coming.  

“People shouldn’t be intimidated about doing this kind of work—it’s so important—it just takes a little time to learn. And,” he adds, “I’d love some help doing it.”  

If you can help Brian, email us at communications@sonomademocrats.org