Meet UConn's Very Own Leslie Knope

Have you always been inspired by the likes of fictional kick-ass female politicians like Leslie Knope? If so, prepare to meet Leslie's real life equivalent: Christy Matthews

 

Matthews is 21 years old, a Junior at the West Hartford branch of UConn studying business administration, a proud resident of Bristol, and oh yeah, she's also running for the State Representative for the 77th District of Connecticut. If elected, she would be the youngest female Democrat in U.S. history to be elected to a legislative position. 

That's right guys, while the rest of us have been Netflix binging and cramming for midterms, Matthews has been canvassing neighborhoods and growing a grass-roots campaign.

According to Matthews, although she's always loved politics, she never planned on running for office at such a young age. However, after becoming a fellow of the YP4, a leadership program for young people and hearing the inspirational Marilyn Mosby speak at their summit in DC, she realized that: "there's never going to be a right time in your life to run, but if you feel like you need to do it, if you feel a social obligation to help improve your community you need to just step up, work hard, and everything else will kind of just fall into place." 

Matthews considers herself to be a progressive, meaning that she wants to: "change up the system and try to make things better" in both her own community and eventually, the world at large. She is a Democrat, who's major platform points include: "intelligent economic policies along with very typical millennial social tolerance." As a millennial herself, Matthews says that acknowledging the "intersectionality" of all of our social failings, like: "jobs, economics, education, poverty, racial justice and the environment" among others, is extremely important.  She also advocates for policies that many millennials have championed, like a higher minimum wage and making college easier to afford. Though she is certainly in touch with her own age group, her passion for issues such as quality treatment for senior citizens and veterans makes her a stand-out among younger politicians.

Perhaps the most amazing part of Matthews' campaign, is that much like Bernie Sanders', it is entirely grass roots. Matthews has gathered support and donations from hundreds of Bristol residents and has raised almost $5,000 dollars. Her love of politics and her community has encouraged her to do the hard work required to get elected, which is especially difficult as a young woman in the political world.  She says, "There's going to be so much gossip.  There's a grapevine of misogyny that, especially if your single, people will try to slut-shame you, and even as a woman, it's very easy to fall into internalized misogyny.  You have to be careful that you're not perpetuating stereotypes and that everything you're saying to others is something that you know to be true."

Though this sounds intense (to say the least) Matthews says she has had an overwhelmingly positive experience so far in running for State Representative, and her advice to other young women who are hoping to break into politics is simply to step up and get to work. "Don't let them intimidate you, don't let them tell you to wait your turn. If you feel that you need to be involved, just get involved. And there are a million resources that you can reach out to if you want to get involved," says Matthews. 

Matthews has volunteered to personally mentor any young person who is hoping to get involved with local, state or nation wide politics in any way, (if you're interested, contact her through her website). As far as Matthews herself goes, she's hoping that some day she can learn from the likes of amazing female politicians like Elizabeth Warren, and even the fictional Leslie Knope, who holds a special place in her heart: "Elizabeth Warren is the person that I dream of someday having Galentines Day brunch with in DC. I really love Ruth Bader GinsburgMichelle Obama, and honestly, Leslie Knope, even though she's fictional, she's amazing. I mean, millennials are really this generation raised on Jedi Knights, Harry Potter and the Katniss Everdeens of the world, which means that we're really this generation raised on dystopia, fighting oppression, fighting the system, and standing up for what's right even though it's hard and dangerous. I honestly think that Leslie Knope was hugely impactful in me deciding to run for office, as weird as that may seem.  The reality is is that it's very difficult in this current political world to create the type of women that Leslie Knope is, so sometimes it's easier to create a fictional person that has the values that you want to see in society and then aspire to that." 

Check out Christy Matthews' campaign website or her Facebook page to learn more about her candidacy and her platform. 

 

 

 

 

 

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