At 18, Saira Blair Becomes The Youngest Elected Official In The United States

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Her name may not have been all over the media during and after the midterm elections on November 4th here in the US, but 18 year-old Saira Blair has just become the youngest elected official in the country! The Republican candidate will be working as a lawmaker in the West Virginia House of Delegates, representing the 59th district.

She trounced her Democratic opponent, Layne Diehl who is twice her age, 63 percent to 30 percent. She campaigned as a staunch anti-abortion, fiscal conservative candidate who supports gun rights. She pledged her top priority will be to bring more jobs to West Virginia so that people like her won’t be forced out of state to build their careers once they graduate from college.

Her father is current state Senator Craig Blair who is immensely proud of his political daughter.

“Don’t be fooled by her age,” Craig Blair said. “People are reading way more into it. She’s got it figured out. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think she was 30 years old,” he told the Today show. No doubt his own experience helped her form her own political ideas, but she says it was the nearly $18 trillion debt and the way her state continued to inch closer to its “rainy day fund,” which it finally dipped into earlier this year to balance the budget.

When Blair takes office in January, she will be the youngest of 7,383 state legislators nationwide, according to preliminary research by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Senate and House of Representatives meet in session each year to create new laws, change existing laws, and enact budgets for the State.

Saira will spend the next two years as a legislature, then return to school from which she is deferring at the moment. Now that’s on-the-job experience you can’t really get anywhere else: being elected to office!

But her desire isn’t to become a career politician, saying she would only serve a maximum 8 years depending on re-election as she believes in term limits.

“I have no desire to climb the political ladder. Therefore, I don’t see myself serving in any federal positions,” she said.Instead, I would like to use my economics degree here from West Virginia University to become a financial advisor.”

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She learned early on that she had to prove herself to voters, especially being so young. She raised $3600 of her own money working at her parent’s businesses which she put into launching her campaign.

Refinery 29 quizzed her on her conservative views asking whether that was her father’s influence.

“I think it is a misconception that all millennials tend to lean to the left. A lot of young people do have more conservative views, they’re just not as open with them because they’re afraid of how other people will call them close-minded or say they’re only listening to their parents’ views. I’m hoping that running and being an outspoken advocate will show people that they don’t have to be ashamed of their conservative views. ”

“Some of my views did come from my parents,” she told Cosmopolitan magazine. “I think a lot of people’s views come from the environment in which they were raised. But the more I researched issues and participated in student government programs, I developed my own ideals. There are some occasions where I am more conservative than my father. We are both pro-life, but he supports Plan B and I do not. A lot of my views come from my church and my religion.”

But despite her staunch beliefs, Saira has had some great support from her age group peers whether they agree with her about her stance on birth control or not.

“I have talked to some who don’t share my views on these things. Most of the time they are still supportive of me because they like the idea of having a voice from our generation in office. Even if we don’t see eye-to-eye on social issues, we share the same experience of our generation.”

“I have gotten hundreds of messages the last few days from young conservatives and they are excited to see somebody standing up for principles that Millennials typically aren’t seen as having — such as being pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and being a fiscal conservative. Those are issues that our generation isn’t seen as supporting, and I’m not the only one my age who supports them.”

Saira doesn’t consider herself a feminist, mainly because of the bad press it so often gets, but does believe in what it stands for.

“I do believe that women are capable of doing anything that they set their minds to. I wouldn’t give myself a label as a feminist, because I think in this day and age there’s a negative connotation to that word that didn’t use to be there — that feminists hate men and want to see them suffer. I just want to see that women and men have equal opportunities.”

 


While we are not brushing her off for being so young, we see her as an important role model for her generation because it shows young women what is possible now, not just in the future. While we may not necessarily agree with her disdain for calling herself a feminist, the label is not as important as your actions. And she may change her mind about that in the future, just like other women have done, including Taylor Swift.

Saira’s perspective is that there are strong positive role models every woman can find today.

“I’d also point out that I’ve never felt that the Republican party has a war on women; I’ve always been accepted with open arms by my party. Throughout campaigning events, people have always been really accepting of my age and my gender. And, I’ve had some female role models who I look up to — Condoleezza Rice, Mia Love, the newly elected West Virginia Senator, Shelley Moore Capito — they’ve all been great role models for me, and I just try to follow in their footsteps.”

She also goes on to say that if there is any branch of politics in America that should focus on diversity, it is the House of Delegates, so her age shouldn’t be an issue.

“The House of Delegates is meant to be the people’s house, to fairly represent the population of West Virginia. It should be 50% men, 50% women; we should have a range of ages. There should be students, doctors, farmers, everyone across the board, rather than just 50-year-old lawyers who are men.”

This story is not about whether you lean to the right or do the left. In fact Saira’s story is a great example of how we can support the younger generation of women running for office to stand up for what they believe in. We have to be a generation which encourages more women to run because the balance of power has historically not been in our favor. We need women on both sides, women who can use their experience, passion and skill to reach across the aisle and find middle ground where it is so badly needed.

Former CA senate candidate Barbi Appelquist told us in May before the Primaries that it is important for women to find a seat at the table for them, and run for it. It’s easy to be dissuaded, but once we look beyond ourselves and see how we can be used to best serve our community, there should be nothing stopping us.

That’s what Saira Blair is doing, wanting to make a difference in her community. We hope her story will encourage many more young women not to cower in fear because of your age, background, bank balance or beliefs. And if you don’t agree with what Saira Blair stands for, well here’s what you can do: run for office!

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One Comment

  1. This is awesome! Good for her! We just voted and I don’t remember that there were any candidates for the house or senate house of delegates in Iowa. I have to admit I’m not very informed about politics~~I just think they spend way to much money to bash the other person! But I need to look into this further, because if these folks are the ones that help make the laws and redo the laws we need all walks of life on this board!!

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