If you’ve ever seen the television show The West Wing, you know that Charlie Young, President Bartlet’s aide, is often the one keeping things moving. In prepping the President for events and making sure the President is on time, Charlie serves an essential function.
Seth Opoku-Yeboah, William and Mary ’17, started working in then-lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam’s office in December of 2016. Three months later, he was asked to join Northam’s campaign for Governor of Virginia, and he accepted. Opoku-Yeboah became Northam’s aide, a real-life Charlie Young. “My job is to keep the trains moving when traveling with the governor,” Opoku-Yeboah said. “This means making sure he’s briefed on the way to events, checking in with event hosts to make sure nothing has changed, taking care of any follow-up that results from his conversations with people on the road, and anything related to making his life or job run smoothly.”
The campaign trail wasn’t always easy. Days were long as the campaign tried to woo voters across Virginia. “We’d have days start as early as 4:30 AM and end as late as 1 AM,” Opoku-Yeboah said. When Northam won the election on November 7th, 2017, celebration was immediate. It marked a huge win for Democrats in the first gubernatorial competition in the post-Trump election era. “It was a great feeling when he won,” said Opoku-Yeboah. “We both yelled the other’s name when we saw each other after the result was announced and gave one another a big hug.”
Opoku-Yeboah graduated with a Government degree and often reflects on his time learning from the Department. “My favorite part about being a Government major was being able to attend classes with people who are as equally as passionate about politics as I am,” he stated. “The Government Department gave me a chance to learn from a lot of smart people who understood the political and policy making process. A William and Mary degree goes a long way, and a lot of that is because of the smart folks we have serving as professors, advisors, and mentors.”
As he continues serving as Northam’s aide and beyond, Opoku-Yeboah hopes to “remain politically and civically engaged to ensure that the policies and values I support are being enacted.”