Recently I had the honor of returning to my alma mater, CVU, to speak to students in the Current Issues classes taught by Lezlee Sprenger. The topic of our discussion was citizens and engagement in the political process—or more importantly, encouraging young people to get involved in their community and in politics right from the start.
I shared my path to becoming involved in Vermont politics. I was fortunate to grow up in a home where my parents and siblings regularly engaged in conversations about politics. Discussing current events at the dinner table was as common as sharing the events of our day. My dad, Gerald Krasnow, served the town of Charlotte as a member of the Charlotte School Board, the Charlotte Fire and Rescue Squad, and later as our representative to the Vermont State House. Upon his death in 1998, my sister, Alysia Krasnow, was appointed by Governor Howard Dean to fill his seat.
I learned so much from both my dad and sister about local and state politics and the importance of becoming involved in the political process. When I was a senior at CVU, Current Issues, then taught by Greg Cluff, was my favorite class. I remember raising my hand frequently during class as I was eager to ask questions and learn as much as I could about local, state, national and global political events and policies. On my 18th birthday, I registered to vote in class.
All of this made me excited to get involved in the political process when I was an adult. I have worked on numerous political campaigns, including mayoral and City Council elections in Burlington, as well as state-wide campaigns. I worked in the Vermont State House as an intern for Representative Chris Pearson and then as an assistant to Senator David Zuckerman, which led me to my job now as part of Senator Zuckerman’s campaign for lieutenant governor. Additionally, it’s been an honor to be a part of Senator Sanders’s presidential campaign.
In Ms. Sprenger’s classes, I asked students what issues they felt were the most important ones facing them and their peers today. The topics ranged from climate change to future job opportunities to tuition costs and college debt. We discussed how important it is for voters their age to research information on those topics and find out where the candidates stand on those issues. I encouraged them to consider volunteering for a candidate who supports and works for the issues that are important to them. I also reminded them that only 38 percent of voters ages 18–24 voted in the last presidential election. Without their voices in the debate and at the ballot box, someone else will be deciding their future. I was excited to learn that many of the students in the Current Issues classes had already registered to vote and had voted in the recent Vermont primary.
All of the students were invited to come to meet with their state senators and representatives in Montpelier to observe the work of the Statehouse in real time. I look forward to future opportunities to encourage student engagement in the political process.