Heads up, you have to vote soon and its not just for a new president. The Rouge Collection got answers to a few questions from Abigail Winget, a 19-year-old candidate running for Baton Rouge Metro Council District 5. Check out the interview below before you go to the polls.
Baton Rouge, LA
I like loud music.
First thing in the morning:
I contemplate whether I should really get out of bed.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a 19-year-old sophomore Political Science major at Southern University here in Baton Rouge.
What sparked your interest in government?
I’d have to say, my experience in the YMCA Youth and Government Program. It’s a high school program that offers two conferences, Model United Nations and Youth Legislature, every year and I participated from my sophomore year until my senior year of high school.
My senior year I was elected Lieutenant Governor of Youth Legislature. Everybody had to come up with a bill that they wanted to present and then the leaders would pick the bills that would be debated. Everybody was a part of the discussion. We were writing policies, talking about them and debating issues. A lot of the bills concerned real life issues that were going on at the time. I’ll never forget, this one girl wanted black people to get slavery reparations!
What was high school like?
McKinley was the first black high school in Baton Rouge during the period of segregation. I like to call McKinley a “historically black high school” because it is exactly that. I go to Southern so I can say that McKinley has the historically black environment. It was a really great experience.
What are some major issues you address in your campaign?
Seeing economic development in North Baton Rouge. I want to see more small businesses rather than corporations. Supporting corporations won’t give as much back to a community as a small business would. I’d especially like to see black businesses. I know that’s difficult because, 1.) its hard for black people to start a business and that’s not fair. 2.) Businesses are hard to keep up if no one is supporting them. I’d like to find a way to encourage people to start businesses in North Baton Rouge as well as try to get involved in the community.
Why should Baton Rouge hire you?
Because I’m actually going to do my job. I mean, we hire these people and they don’t know how to do their jobs.
I read this article a couple of weeks ago about the fact that the Metro Council push through this tech company that was going to do internships but they were going to open up at LSU. So obviously it looks like a setup for LSU students, and LSU students only.
But what really got me about it was that it went through 11 to 1. The only person who voted against it was LaMont Cole because he had the sense to say, “This isn’t going to benefit my district so why should I vote for it?” As a city council person you have to ask yourself, “Will this benefit my district?” and then you go on to ask if it will benefit Baton Rouge. You do not flip it because something can benefit Baton Rouge and not your district.
When you’re going to school for political science, one of the things you learn is that Congress, councils, legislatures… the seats are meant for representatives of the people. Those seats were never meant for the 1% or upper middle class. They were meant for people in smaller communities but now that we have money in politics it’s not set up like that anymore.
How do you feel your age can benefit or hinder your platform?
I’ll start with the benefits. Being the age that I am gives me entirely different views on issues. Those are more progressive and liberal views. I feel that the government should assist people as much as possible, that’s what we pay taxes for, but older people can be more “every man for himself.”
The down side to my age is that people wouldn’t believe that I’m capable. I sat down at an interview a while ago and they were like, “You look so young!” and throughout the whole interview they were talking to me like, “Oh baby, you don’t want to do this. Sit down somewhere.” But that was the first time that ever happened. Usually people are excited that I’m getting involved.
Would you describe your campaign?
I would definitely say that it is non-traditional because I used GoFundMe.com to raise campaign funds. I was sort of stepping on the line with Board of Ethics on that one because of some weird regulation. But we got it approved.
And I use a lot of social media.
How will you reach older generations?
I’ve talk to different age groups and when I tell people who are older than me that I’m running for city council they are extremely excited and eager about my campaign. I believe what’s done it is me being so young and them wanting to support the next generation coming up.
What do you want people to consider when they go to vote?
I can analyze, see every side and still hold true to my ideas. I’m going to address what the district needs without leaning this way or that way. I’m going to hold fast to what I’m trying to get done.
I want people to vote how they actually feel. Just make sure you go vote!