Bluegrass Candidate Recap

Olivia Otto

Kentucky YMCA Media Corps
9 min readNov 20, 2021

Ben Schrader:

Q: Could you go into more detail about your platforms? What specifically would you like to be done to account for your policies?

A: Homelessness first, I felt really passionate about having my service project be about homelessness because when I walk to school everyday, I pass a homeless shelter or a food kitchen. I feel really passionate about that because it hurts to see those people struggling in that sort of way, so that’s why I chose the homeless shelter as my service project. With child hunger, many of the students at my school are on free and reduced lunch so just seeing that made me a little upset. […] I felt really strongly about talking about that. [My platform on combining counties] is a little more complicated. A lot of it has to do with money being spent on county clerks, judges, having a mayor and a city hall. All of that, all of those funds could be spent on bigger counties. A lot of the counties have less than 10,000 people in them, and those are the counties I’m trying to combine.

Q: Could you talk a little bit about what that service project was?

A: I reached out to a homeless shelter [Franklin County Women’s Shelter] in my area, and I’m able to do a pillow drive because they’re in need of pillows.

Q: How has KYA impacted your life?

A: 7th grade KYA was the first KYA I ever went to. I didn’t run for any sort of office there and I wasn’t able to go to 8th grade KYA because of Covid. This is my first full experience of it all.

Q: Why’d you decide to run?

A: As I said in my speech, I’ve always been really passionate about politics. My mom used to work for Rocky Adkins when he was the House Majority and Minority Leader, and I used to page a couple times. So I’ve always enjoyed politics, and I think it would be really interesting to experience it at KYA and that’s why I was really excited about getting the opportunity to run.

Q: What has been the most fun part about your campaign? What has been the hardest?

A: The most challenging part was working on my speech. I’ve been working on my speech for quite a while, but I only really had time to practice it a couple days ago. Doing my speech was really challenging, but I enjoyed it a lot. [The speech] was one of the most fun parts, but another one was making my trifold over there. […] My mom helped me with a lot of that, and getting the materials and everything I needed to do that. I’m really thankful for her [and] for helping me with that. Definitely making the trifold was a lot of fun.

Cortez Carver:

Q: Could you go into more detail about your platforms? What specifically would you like to be done to account for your policies?

A: The first one and the one that I’m most passionate about is bus driver wages. I would say that right now there’s not too many bus drivers. For our school specifically, there’s only like two or three buses that run. And we’re a private school so obviously it’s not as much. Kids that do take the bus — they’re not able to do any sports because the bus leaves at 3:30 and practices are after. They can’t do any clubs or anything like that. Basically they just go to school and leave. I feel like increasing bus driver wages would bring more people into the job. […] By that, we could get more competent drivers and increase safety for all the kids on the bus. [This would] also allow all those kids that do take the bus to be involved in extracurricular activities as well. Another one [of my platforms involves] the Ronald McDonald House organization. They give a place to stay for families who have children undergoing a medical procedure. They allow the families to stay as long as they want while the kid is having surgery or going through chemo or whatever. But they don’t have many volunteers — I volunteer there, and we used to go every single month to volunteer there. I volunteered there recently and there were two who were running the whole thing and people cleaning and that was it. I was going to work with them to have more outreach and bring more people to the jobs, more volunteers to make food for the people who are staying there, better service and cleaning the rooms. Just making it more comfortable and a better living space for all of the people there. My third platform is increased wages and salaries of those involved in the KYPD — basically all of the Kentucky police department. Currently an entry level job as a police officer earns — last time I checked — about $36,000, which is comparable to those of other city jobs like waste management and sewage. And I’m not saying that those jobs aren’t important — they’re very important — but someone being a police officer and potentially risking their life and their job, I feel like they should be paid a little bit more. And also with all of the controversy surrounding the police force right now, not many people want to have the job, which creates more crime, obviously larger wait times when you do need police to show up, and management just gets worse. Without that pay there’s not motivation for those jobs, and people will tend to stay away from that.

Q: Could you outline the connection between increasing bus driver wages and allowing kids to be more involved in extracurricular activities?

A: Essentially, if we pay bus drivers more and we get more people in the job, then we could have more buses run. So potentially we could have buses run at 6:30, 5:00, stuff like that, therefore they could go to practice and then ride that bus home rather than having to leave at 3:30.

Q: How has KYA impacted your life and your decision to run for office?

A: Not only has it allowed me to share my opinions and see how other people think but also augment my opinions and see how other people think and […gain] a wider lens of what’s really out there in the entire state. That one thing I really like about it, and I feel like it’s given me a broader spectrum of how people think.

Q: What has been the most challenging part about your campaign?

A: It was pretty stressful. I was excited to go to the event and to give my speech and talk in all of the committees. It’s very challenging to muster up the courage and the bravery to go up there and say something when you don’t know how people are going to react. That was probably the most difficult part and balancing that with everything else that happened at school and making it part of [my] life was pretty difficult.

Q: What has been the most fun part of your campaign?

A: The conference as a whole, I’ve really enjoyed as this is my third or fourth year now. And giving my speech and people giving me feedback like “oh you gave such a good speech” or “oh I like your poster”, stuff like that, that’s been my favorite part about running.

Q: Are any of your platforms personal to you? If so, could you explain how?

A: I have a personal connection to [bus driver wages] because I’m on the football team at St. X, and a lot of the kids there […] have to stay there and wait […] until 8:30 just to take the TARC bus to a neighborhood that was a couple of miles from his house and then walk back. Some kids had to do this in the morning because the bus didn’t run where they lived. Increasing [bus driver] wages, increasing hourly pay would allow more opportunities for kids who have to take the bus.

Q: Anything to add? Anything else you’d like to share?

A: Advice to someone else that’s [thinking about] running — that’s one thing I’d like to say — if you think you want to run, just do it. At first it’s a little bit unnerving, getting up there and speaking in front of all those people, but it’s such a good experience and teaches you about leadership and responsibility. It keeps you on task. It’s a great thing to do and share your own opinions out there and you get to learn about our own government too. So even if there’s a tiny urge — you think ‘yeah maybe I should do this’ — just go for it.

Eliza Renshaw:

Q: Could you go into more detail about your platforms? What specifically would you like to be done to account for your policies?

A: My three platforms are supporting the military, providing summer learning opportunities, and changing and updating graduation requirements. For supporting military families, I started with my service project of collecting bags with goodies and welcome supplies like maps of Hopkinsville and give them to new military families to kinda have a warm and welcoming program based in the community and I just felt like I needed to give back to something I truly believe in because I’m a military child myself. For updating [graduation requirements], what I’m going to do is 4 days where you can either job shadow or tour a college campus. I just thought we could put that out there due to the fact that nobody can really do that without having an excused absence. They don’t really have the time and effort to go into it, and with this it’s just easier. […] And for summer learning opportunities, we would do summer classes. For example you could do PE or credit recovery in the summer so you didn’t have to have it per say during the school year. So you could get ahead on classes or catch up on something and it would give students an extra opportunity to excel in school. Those are my three platforms.

Q: I’d like to follow up on the summer learning opportunities: how would you like to build on what’s already out there because there are already some programs out there for summer work?

A: I would be building on it to where you could even retake the class so it’s not per say an extra class that you could take. […] For example I’m a freshman so I’m in Honors Algebra 1. If I didn’t fully understand it, I could take it again to understand it better. So it’s just kind of a knowledge builder.

Q: How has KYA impacted your life?

A: I got involved from my elementary school. I went to a really small Catholic school, and that was one of the only clubs we had, so I just did it for fun. I really enjoyed being able to debate bills and hear everyone’s opinions and how everyone perceives everything. I decided to run because I wanted to make sure I could hear everyone’s voices and try to accommodate everyone.

Q: What has been the most fun part about your campaign? What has been the hardest?

A: The most fun part of my campaign has been getting to work with others and realizing that I can have fun and still help someone out. The biggest challenge was that I went into this blind because of Covid. Everything’s changed, and no one’s really done this before with Covid. So I didn’t really know what I was getting into, but overall it’s been an awesome experience.

Q: Are any of your platforms personal to you? If so, could you explain how?

A: My support of the military [platform] is very personal — my father is in the military, so I’ve been a military child my whole life. I’ve seen many people that just struggle and it’s sad to see that and I would really just like to help them.