Young Democrats launch chapter in Kendall County

Organizers hope to boost youth turnout in local elections as county continues to trend blue.

A new group is organizing in Kendall County with a mission: get Democratic young people to start caring about local elections.

A Young Democrats chapter has been launched in Kendall County with plans well underway to organize and host events and monthly meetings. Leaders in the group say their major issues include racial equality, local education and boosting Democratic representation in local government.

“In Kendall County, we have a lot of possibility to create some kind of change and elect more Democrats, but it really relies on what the youth want to do,” said Isabelle Gershon, the chapter’s vice president and a 14-year-old Oswego resident who starts high school in the fall.

The creation of the group comes at a linchpin moment for local Democrats. In elections last November, Kendall County continued to trend Democratic for national races. But the county’s changing political stripes has struggled to translate at the local level.

Republicans gained a seat on the County Board, won a partisan Circuit Court clerk’s race and increased a foothold on the Oswego Village Board in the April municipal elections.

For organizers of the Young Democrats chapter, bridging this “disconnect” is a top priority.

“A big goal of ours is to have our local politics represent the demographics we have here,” Gershon said.

Everything from social media to not knowing the candidates, positions and dates limits turnout for local elections, organizers said. To help people understand, organizers plan to explain how the federal government is connected to local government.

“It’s hard because there’s a lot of publicity with the presidential elections, but locally you don’t really know what those lines are and how those systems work,” said Ashlyn Pearson, president of the Young Democrats chapter and an 18-year-old University of Iowa student.

The chapter hopes to rally young people around racial injustice, arguing that it is not just a national issue.

“Locally, racism does exist,” Gershon said. “I think that’s one thing that really affects youth, and that’s something we hope to be able to create some momentum on.”

Going forward, Kendall County Young Democrats plans to start attending Oswego School District 308 board meetings. The group will co-host the Yorkville Fourth of July parade and has a kickoff event slated for August.

“We have a great group of people who are consistently showing up to meetings and helping us organize things,” Pearson said. “We just hope to keep growing and see more people willing to volunteer.”

Lucas Robinson

Lucas Robinson covers politics, courts, schools and the pandemic in Kendall County and Yorkville for Shaw Media. His work has previously appeared in the Chicago Reader, the Buenos Aires Times, Open Secrets and USAToday. He grew up in Muncie, Indiana.