Next generation of public leaders look to better their communities, build the Democratic bench
More than 30 young progressives were elected to various local offices across Kansas in the municipal elections on November 7, 2017, marking a rousing success for the Kansas Young Democrats and our recent initiative, Operation Bench Builder.
Launched in August of 2017, Operation Bench Builder sought to lend financial and logistical help to Democratic candidates for local office under the age of 40. With this goal in mind, KYD raised and distributed more than $3,000 to targeted campaigns, issued many official endorsements, and connected candidates with local YD chapters as a source of volunteer power. Almost 60% of all Young Democrat candidates were elected, and nearly 70% of KYD's targeted candidates won their races.
"As young people, many decisions are made with our future in mind. Often times, however, our voice is not heard or is actively ignored. I have always felt that if decisions are being made that regard my future, then my voice needs to be heard and I need to be at the table. I feel that same way for everyone else. Engaging politically now at a young age gives you an opportunity to shape what our future looks like and to bring unheard voices to the table."
"We are starving for fresh ideas and ways of working through policy challenges. We need you! Your voice matters in more ways than one. First, your voice matters in your VOTE. Many times candidates who do not represent the desires and will of the people get elected because our young people don't go out and vote... Second, run for office, we need to be representative of our communities, we need young professionals to become involved in the political process to shape our policies."
"Young people change the world. So let's change our representation in the White House and Governor's Mansion! While we're at it, we can make an even bigger and better impact by creating positive change in our local communities at every level of our government."
KYD Bench Builder Class of 2017
Amber Madl, 39 - USD 250 (Pittsburg) School Board
Angela Becker, 30 - USD 373 (Newton) School Board
Angeliina Lawson, 37 - Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees
Ben Blankley, 34 - USD 259 (Wichita) School Board
Brandon Johnson, 31 - Wichita City Council
Claudia McCormack, 38 - Roeland Park City Council
Desiree Fergus, 38 - USD 203 (Kansas City) School Board
Emily Graves, 33 - Ottawa City Commission
Hillary Parker Thomas, 29 - Mission City Council
Jennifer Ananda, 36 - Lawrence City Commission
Jennifer Tavernaro, 39 - Weir City Council
Jeremy Bennett, 39 - USD 261 (Haysville) School Board
Jermaine Wilson, 30 - Leavenworth City Commission
Jerred McKee, 25 - Manhattan City Commission
John McEvoy, 33 - USD 449 (Leavenworth) School Board
John Zafuta, 38 - Frontenac City Treasurer
Jurdene Coleman, 30 - USD 383 (Manhattan) School Board
Lakisha Johnson, 37 - USD 445 (Coffeyville) School Board
Lauren Aleshire, 32 - Mission Woods City Council
Lee Cross, 38 - Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees
Lindsey Constance, 36 - Shawnee City Council
Logan Heley, 24 - Overland Park City Council
Mark Coomes, 35 - USD 249 (Frontenac) School Board
Matthew Herbert, 34 - Lawrence City Commission
Michelle de la Isla, 41 - Topeka Mayor
Melissa Ogleby, 35 - USD 253 (Emporia) School Board