Auontai “Tay” Anderson just graduated from Denver’s Manual High School on May 27, and his plans for the summer include going to Elitch Gardens amusement park, working at the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop and campaigning for the District 4 seat on the Denver School Board.
The Denver Post reports that a wave of community activism among young adults could be the key to Anderson’s success in the race, and those who support him take offense when it’s suggested that his efforts are not being taken seriously.
“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 don’t,” Colorado state Rep. Joe Salazar of Thornton told the Post. “Young people like him because he’s engaged, and older generations relate to him as well.”
“And if the DPS board treats this like it’s nothing, well, I hope this child whips their butts,” Salazar said.
Anderson, 18, is running against 46-year-old Rachele Espiritu, a mother of two who works in behavioral health and was appointed by the school board president in May 2016 to fill a vacant seat left by a previous appointee who stepped down.
Espiritu said she believes that Anderson’s run for the school board is good for the district.
“I think it is a testament to the good work DPS is doing in developing our student leaders,” Epiritu told the Post. “I think our schools and our teachers are encouraging young leaders to step forward, and I’m excited about that.”
Anderson told the Post he wants to curb a seven-member board that promotes school choice and closes low-performing schools in favor of charter schools, even if parents object.
“I’m not comfortable with closing a neighborhood public school just so we can implement a charter school,” Anderson said. “There is just a lack of transparency on the board, and a lot of people are not comfortable with that.”
The school board election is in November, and candidates have until Sept. 1 to join the race.
Read more at the Denver Post.