Meet the 18-Year-Old who is Looking to Unseat an Incumbent on the Denver School Board

BY SUSAN JOHNES

On May 27, Auontai “Tay” Anderson graduated from Denver’s Manual High School. On his graduation, he had plans for the summer including going to Elitch Gardens amusement park, working at Krispy Kreme doughnut shop, and campaigning for the District 4 seat on the Denver School Board.

As reported by the Denver Post, a wave of community activism among young adults could be the motivating aspect to Anderson’s success in the race.

“I think he’s part of a generation of young people who are tired of elected officials saying they are going to do something for them and they fail even to attempt,” Colorado State Rep. Joe Salazar of Thornton said to Denver Post.

He added that young people love the teen because he’s engaged and seniors relate to him as well. Salazar further stated that the kid would likely to reform the board once he joins it.

Anderson who 18, is running against 46-year-old Rachele Espiritu who is a mother of two. She was appointed by the school board president in May 2016 to fill a vacant seat left by a previous appointee who stepped down.

In his campaigns, Anderson always dresses in a white suit and blue tie. He knows how to control the crowd by shaking hands and exchanging hugs.

Anderson’s peer claims that he is among a vanguard of young African-Americans running for office, infused with enthusiasm sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Anderson has appointed Kate Burmite as his social media director. Burmite says that it is impossible to discount Anderson because people are naturally drawn to him.

When George Washington graduate, reached out to Anderson to see if he needed help with his campaign, she was surprised at how Anderson gave a soft reply stating that he never wants people to try to use his youth and inexperience to sway him on issues.

Anderson has close ties to Denver’s student population, which makes him the best choice to join an out-of-touch board. On the same note, Espiritu believes that Anderson’s run for the school board is good for the district.

Espiritu recommended the step and thanked the schools and the teachers for encouraging young leaders to step up in leadership roles.

Anderson said that he wants to curb a seven-member board that promotes the decision to close low-performing schools to be replaced by charter schools, even if he will face objection from the parents.

Anderson observed the lack of transparency on the board and the discomfort of a lot of people. The school board election is scheduled for November, and candidates have until Sept. 1 to join the race.

Read more details here.

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