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Q&A: Nick Frederick

The executive director of the Salt Lake County Democratic Party says, "You need patience to not get discouraged."

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Nick Frederick is executive director of the Salt Lake County Democratic Party. He moved to Utah in 2015 from Washington, D.C., where he worked for Sen. Tim Kaine—who, he laments, did not become vice president. Nick was a field organizer in Virginia during Kaine's Senate campaign. Before that, he was an international baseball player and coach in Europe and Australia.

How does a baseball player get into politics?
After playing baseball at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., I went to Belgium to coach younger teammates while I played A-team ball. Then I went to Australia to play there for a while. But I wanted to help people.

My mom had worked for the Department of Commerce. At night, we talked about how really complex the economy was and about people who understood what the fixes were. These people weren't political who worked in government. I was impressed by that. My goal became to get good people into office. I liked working for Senator Kaine when constituents with problems called who didn't get their Social Security checks, or couldn't get veteran benefits. Making people's lives easier was the best part of the job. That's what most people want—to make their lives a bit easier. In the Senate, I met people who had different views, but they wanted to help the country just as much as I do. We disagreed on how to do it, but we agreed on a lot more. People are generally good.

How did you transition from D.C. to SLC?
I came out to visit my sister and really liked it here. I moved here to ski, looked for a job and found the opening for executive director of the Salt Lake County Democratic Party. When I said I was going to Utah to work in politics, I was told, 'You'll be the only Democrat.' I found so many Dems, I got optimistic. Then election season came and reminded me that this still is a Republican state. Salt Lake County is more Democratic and candidates like Ben McAdams win, but the rest of the state is hard for someone from Virginia.

How do you spend your personal time?
Eat, snowboard, run, hike and read about sports. The conversation about sports has gotten very intelligent in the last few years and there are a lot of parallels between sports and politics. You have to get past a really bad news cycle and keep your eye on what's really important, like winning that championship or winning that election. Not every blown game is the end of the world, or the end of the campaign.

Do you see any hope for Democrats in Utah?
I don't think we give the Republicans enough credit. But we can get a bunch of people elected to city councils and to the state Senate from different districts and rebuild the political infrastructure. You need patience to not get discouraged. Pushing forward is important.

Are you here for the long term or do you have other plans?
Silly me! I got into a relationship and she got a job in Denver. I will be moving there this summer. I would like to come back to Salt Lake at some point. It's a great city and a great community. I don't know where you can have access to so many educational, recreational and job opportunities, and the great cultural life.

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