We are witnessing a transformation in our political landscape and with the dawn of the modern technical era, it’s happening at an unprecedented rate. Across the nation millennials are winning their elections. The most notable thus far is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Latina who won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district and will likely become the youngest woman elected to Congress.
With more millennial candidates than ever before, Arizona is also feeling this paradigm shift. Between city council and state legislature we have over 20 candidates alone. They are even campaigning for Justice of the Peace and Constable. Candidates for these positions often run unopposed. This year, however, I am among one of the disruptors.
My name is Elaissia Sears and I am the youngest candidate running for office in Arizona.
I’m a proud public servant running for Justice of the Peace in West Mesa. I studied international relations in college and have always been politically aware. However, after I went through the experience of my mother’s campaign and subsequent historical win as the first person of color for Mesa Public Schools Governing Board my entire philosophy on accessibility in politics was changed. That following January I began work at the House of Representatives and discovered that it was young people who did a great amount of the heavy lifting. It was the millennial interns and staffers writing the actual policies that would be going into legislative bills. Millennials are not the future; we are the now.
Our Diverse Composition
I’ve knocked on thousands of doors over the past year, talking to people, face-to-face, and making a connection. People are excited and inspired this cycle. Although, occasionally I will hear, “You don’t LOOK like a justice of the peace.” That statement, that unconscious bias, is one of the biggest problems facing our democracy today.
If all of our elected officials look the same, are the community’s values truly being represented?
West Mesa is full of rich culture and diversity, from mariscos to banh mi and millennials to baby boomers. It is just a slice of the bigger picture, a bigger picture reflective of what America looks like today.
Running to Win
I knock doors in 110+ degree heat while simultaneously maintaining my job as an educator and small business owner because I understand how important this office is. I understand what this means to the people it will serve. Justice courts belong to the community. Judges have an obligation to oversee cases with compassion while also holding people accountable.
I’m running to do for West Mesa what my mom did for me: show the working class, young people, and the general population that they can also take back government from the politicos we feel completely disconnected from and run for office. Our voices and opinions are powerful and must be heard in our government. This requires action and that means stepping up to the plate. As Michael Enzi once said, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”
In 2016, Heather Furello of Louisiana became the youngest female Justice of the Peace in the nation at 19 years of age. Women, notably, women of color, are running and are winning. In Alabama nine black women were elected to the bench in 2016. In Arizona we have only ever elected two black Justices of the Peace in the entire history of the state. Earning the opportunity this November to represent West Mesa would be unprecedented.
Millennials are running for office and we’re running to win. We are on the cusp of exceeding the baby boomers and the largest generation in the electorate. We are also the most racially diverse. We are the most educated and the worst paid. We believe in bringing policy and real issues back into the conversation. We are energized and prepared to outwork the competition. We are running to win.