If the 2017 class of KYD Bench Builders - which featured 30 Democrats under 40 years old elected to city councils and school boards - was defined by quantity, the 2018 class would be defined by quality: of the five new Young Democrats elected to federal, state, and county office in Kansas, three made history.
On the federal level, 38-year-old Sharice Davids not only became the first Native American woman ever elected to Congress, but the first openly LGBT person to represent Kansas in Congress as well. Elected from the 3rd Congressional District, which consists of the Kansas City metro area, she has received a flood of national attention as one of several young, racially diverse women who helped the Democratic Party win control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 2008.
On the state level, 28-year-old Brandon Woodard (a recent KYD Treasurer) flipped a red seat to become the first openly LGBT man elected to the Kansas Legislature, and will also claim the title of youngest Democrat in the statehouse. 29-year-old Rui Xu defeated an entrenched moderate Republican incumbent to become the first Chinese-American member of the Kansas Legislature. Every young Democratic statehouse incumbent was successfully reelected as well: 33-year-old Brett Parker, 36-year-old Brandon Whipple, 37-year-old Ponka-We Victors, 38-year-old Eileen Horn, and 39-year-old KC Ohaebosim all successfully retained their seats in the Kansas House of Representatives.
Finally, on the often-overlooked but powerful county level, Young Democrats won seats on two county commissions. 36-year-old Lacey Cruse from Wichita broke the Republican lock on the Sedgwick County Commission, while 33-year-old Jeremy Johnson, who also served as the Mayor of Pittsburg, claimed a seat on the Crawford County Commission.
First launched in 2017, the KYD Bench Builder program seeks to lend financial, political, and/or logistical help to Democratic candidates for office under the age of 40, with the aim of bettering Kansas communities through progressive policy while helping Young Democrats achieve a platform to garner campaign and governing experience. With this goal in mind, KYD has raised and distributed thousands of dollars to targeted campaigns, issued dozens of official endorsements, and connected candidates with local YD chapters as a source of volunteer power.
Success doesn't come cheap. We look to win more progressive influence on city councils and school boards across the state on November 5, 2019 while building the next generation of Democratic leaders in the process. Your generous contribution will help us do it.
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
Mike Kelly, 31 - Roeland Park Mayor
Sollie Flora, 32 - Mission City Council
Tucker Poling, 39 - Prairie Village City Council
Wynn Buessing, 38 - Axtell Mayor
"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."
Paid for by the Kansas Young Democrats.