“Flash forward to the election, and there were so many tears [among my friends]. We turned to each other and said, "We’ve got to be about it. We can’t just sit here and talk. Why don’t we start running for office?" Though the next major election wasn’t until 2018, I knew my city was having one. I said I would run, and my friends said they would support me.”
Following the November election, Peace First Fellow, activist, and founder of the Think Twice anti-gun violence campaign, Mary-Pat Hector was spurred on to take action. Recognizing the need, now more than ever, to have a youth voice present in the political sphere, Mary-Pat began her run for city council with excitement for her and her community’s future.
“To see change, you have to effect change in an effective manner. If you look across history, it’s because of young people lending themselves to it, and it’s through policy. The only way to do that is to create it, by gaining that power. You have to be part of the school board, the city council. You have to take your activism to another level and be engaged all the way through.”
But her hope, excitement, and acute understanding of how to create lasting change was not enough for some, specifically citing her age as a reason for her not to be elected. In fact, some called for her to not even be allowed to run for office because of her age. But Mary-Pat stood firm and fought these challenges, once again highlighting her incredible understanding of what service and government positions are meant to do.
“So many times, people just think that young people can’t govern - and they can. If you are getting into politics for the right reasons, you just have to pay attention to your constituents and not be afraid to be the voice for them.”
In the end, Mary-Pat’s run did not win a spot on the city council, but the experience was far from a loss.
“The fact that young people all over the country saw me running, and knew they could run, too, that was the most meaningful part of it."
Are you interested in creating change in your community like Mary-Pat? Start your peacemaking project today!