Angela Becker does not consider herself a professional politician. But she did, as she said, “work her ass off” to get where she is.
Hesston College welcomed Becker to campus Friday, March 9 to discuss local politics and how students can participate. About 25 students from Hesston and Bethel, along with three faculty sponsors attended the discussion.
Following the Women’s March on Jan. 20, students across campus started wondering how to get involved and bring meaningful changes to their communities.
That’s when Faith Manickam approached communication faculty Kendra Burkey about next steps for students identifying with progressive politics. Burkey suggested bringing Angela Becker, a recently-elected USD 373 school board member to campus. Becker, who was recently featured among several other women on the cover of Time Magazine, discussed opportunities to make an impact in their communities.
Her message was clear: Get involved. Becker discussed the importance of local politics first.
“Local politics determine the funding for education, the quality of water and air,” Becker said.
Meaningful changes don’t always come from the federal government, she said. She also urged students to get involved in the election process and local parties in order to make their voices heard. This way students can bring smaller changes but with bigger impacts to their communities.
Becker showed students that their will could impact the community in a meaningful way as she explained how the work of a small group of activists got Democrat Tim Hodge elected to the Kansas House of Representatives for district 72, an historically Republican-held seat. Becker also praised a small group of community members who she says single handedly saved Camp Hawk, a local campground known for its disk golf course and destined for the budget chopping block by Harvey County commissioners.
Most importantly, Becker said, students can vote. Harvey County counts around 22,000 registered voters but in the last election only 6,500 actually voted. Becker explained the importance of getting in the streets and trying to change people’s minds. Hard work by a small number of people triggered change in the last special election, she said.
Becker showed that wherever there is a will, there’s a way, as she explained how her own persistence, door-knocking and desire for change got her elected in a small town in the middle of Kansas, coming from California. She urged the audience to take actions as she discussed what she considers “voter suppression practices” implemented in Kansas and urged the younger generation to bring much needed changes.
She also advocated for very realistic change, urging students to get involved with programs and organizations that are already established.
“Become an expert, but don’t reinvent the wheel,” Becker said.