The UCA and Hendrix Young Democrats united in Simon Park at 2 p.m. Sept. 21 for a rally encouraging younger and older Democrats of Faulkner County to participate in upcoming elections.
The rally was in support of 2014 Arkansas Gubernatorial Democratic candidate Mike Ross Burkhalter, lieutenant governor candidate. Michael Cook, Talk Business contributor, spoke about the Young Democrats working together toward common goals.
Ross and Burkhalter said Faulkner County is important to them.
“You have a great opportunity to lead your state and it’s very important that you’re involved,” Burkhalter said. “We have to make sure that education is still available and within your reach. I look forward to working with each and every one of y’all as we turn Faulkner County blue in 2014.”
Joining the Young Democrats on campus is a step students can take in becoming politically involved.
Sophomore Jared LaReau, UCA Young Democrats president, said being a Young Democrat means being a resonsible young person.
“It is important that Young Democrats join together because politics is often an arena that usually only allows older people,” he said. “They make decisions that affect not only me, but everyone over everything. A lot of the time, young people like to discuss politics but not work for it.”
LaReau said that young people can become more integrated into politics if they come together and stand up.
“Change will come and politicians will hold themselves accountable,” LaReau said.
Ross said he got his start in the Young Democrats in the 1980s. “I had the opportunity to travel with Bill Clinton around the states,” he said. “From that experience came a real heartfelt desire to serve and make a difference.”
Ross spoke in front of the crowd of students and adults, urging them to participate in his campaign.
“This election is not about me; it’s about you,” he said. “It’s about the future of the Democratic Party in Arkansas. We need to spread our positive beliefs across this state.”
Ross discussed the significance education had on him.
“I helped create the Arkansas Academic Challenge scholarship program and Our Kids First, increased Pell grants and cut student loan interest rates in half,” he said. “I am committed to young people and I am running for governor to build the foundation that Governor Beebe has laid, especially in the areas of education and job creation.”
Ross elaborated on his hopes further, saying each child in Arkansas should be able to grow up, receive an education, find a job and live their dreams. He said Arkansas has a duty to help children whose parents’ cannot help pay for their college education.
“We live in a country where we get to choose where we go to college, where we worship, where we live, where we work,” he said. “One of the few things in life we don’t get to choose is who our parents are. Some kids get lucky and some don’t, but I believe we have an obligation as a state to ensure that every one of God’s children has a fighting chance at realizing their dreams.”
Ross said his campaign is pretty simple.
“I want every child in this state to grow up knowing and to have faith that if they do their very best in school, if they work hard, if they play by the rules and don’t fear failure, they can grow up and achieve their God-given potential and they shouldn’t have to leave Arkansas to do so,” he said.
Ross expressed his concern that his oppoent’s party will try and keep him from winnng the election and accomplishing his goals.
“The Republicans are going to do everything they can to stop me, but with your help, I am absolutely convinced that we can win Faulkner County,” Ross said.
LaReau and other Young Democrats responded positively to Ross and Burkhalter’s speeches.
“Quite a bit of the Republican leaders in this state have pushed legislation that is draconian at best and supports beliefs that do not represent the majority of Arkansans,” LaReau said. “Mike Ross and John Burkhalter do, and that’s why it’s so important to get them elected.”
“My desire to serve has never been greater. I believe in Arkansas, I believe in its people, and I believe the best is yet to come,” Ross said.