Photo courtesy of Kelsey Clark
As you sit in your classes, talking with your peers, have you ever imagined that one of them could someday represent your interests in politics? One Drake University graduate is campaigning to do just that.
Kelsey Clark graduated in 2007 as a law, politics and society major. Before attending Drake University Law School in 2009, she began working for Childserve in Johnston. She was an active member of Drake Law Democrats and served as a Student Ambassador at the university. As a Drake student, Clark learned the value of hard work and compassion. For some students, Clark’s Drake background is significant.
“I think I would be more likely to vote for someone who graduated from Drake, because I would think her priorities would be similar going to a school like this,” said Erika Swoboda, a first-year biology major.
Clark continues her work at Childserve today, helping children and adults with disabilities. This experience has impacted her perspective on politics.
“I know what it’s like to work on behalf of others. It’s very important to me that children and families are well represented up at the state house,” Clark said.
In her time at Drake, she interned with the General Counsel for Childserve, clerked at the Tucker Law Firm, worked as a legal research assistant, served as a student attorney in Drake’s Legal Clinic and the Elder Law Clinic and interned for two sessions at the Iowa Capitol.
Clark enjoys spending time outdoors, with friends and family, and with her pug, Milo. She has lived in House District 39 her whole life. She and both of her brothers graduated from high school in Dallas Center-Grimes, and her younger sister attends school there now. Both of her parents are small business owners, and her mother also runs the drama department at the high school. Most of her extended family also lives in the area.
“That’s a reason it’s especially important for me to be a good representative for families in the district, because my whole family lives here,” Clark said.
Now, Clark is running as a Democrat for the Iowa Statehouse against Republican Jake Highfill. She has been knocking on doors as a key part of her campaign. Clark has also been sitting down with community members to understand their perspectives and concerns. She is hosting a large event on Oct. 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. to encourage members of the community to meet her and her family. There will be an outdoor concert and street party on Main Street in Grimes, with local band Brother Trucker, a folksy rock band, performing. The shops on Main Street will be open for business during the event.
To Clark, the most important issue for this election is the need to create and keep jobs in Iowa. She plans to support small businesses and create an environment where young people can find jobs. She is also a firm believer in cooperation between the parties.
“When I was interning, I saw legislators that refused to work with each other. We’ve got to be able to roll up our sleeves and get down to business,” Clark said. “Nothing can get done unless we’re willing to work with each other.”
Clark is relatively young for a statehouse candidate. She will be turning 28 years old in November, which is significantly younger than the national average age for statehouse legislators, which is 56.
“I believe my age absolutely helps me. I have insight into what young people and young professionals are facing in this age,” Clark said. “I have the energy and enthusiasm, and I can look out for the interests of young people. We need to have fresh faces and fresh ideas.”
Some Drake students are more cautious when it comes to younger candidates.
“Her age makes me more wary of her qualifications. Obviously, my vote would depend on the issues I cared about and her stances on those, but even if our stances matched, I would still want to make sure she was capable of getting the job done,” said Kathleen Knox, a first-year environmental science major. “If someone was her age and had not gone to law school, I would be less likely to support that person, but the fact she graduated law school makes a huge difference.”
Clark is hopeful moving forward in her campaign.
“In this election, House District 39 has a chance to elect someone with the experience, education, creativity, courage and compassion that this district deserves to have in a representative,” Clark said. “We need legislators who are interested in hearing from the people in their communities.”