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The love of her hometown is what motivates political science major Alexa Scholl. The passion for her community inspired her to run for city council while still attending Arizona State University.
Scholl’s interest in campaigns led her to help with various fundraising efforts while growing up in Prescott, Arizona. After getting exposure to what it takes to run a campaign she asked herself, "What if I were to run for city council myself?"
She bounced the idea off a fellow Tillman Scholar, who told her why not? If she runs and loses, she still gets a great experience; if she runs and wins, she’s on city council. So in March, at the age of 19, Scholl began her campaign.
Prescott has multiple colleges and universities, but Scholl says the city isn’t retaining its youth once they graduate. According to Scholl, Prescott is largely a retirement community. Census data shows that more than 30 percent of people in Prescott are 65 years and over.
Scholl commented that being a “retirement community isn’t sustainable” due to the lower workforce, doctor shortages, etc. With three seats on the city council up for election, Scholl thought she could help create opportunities by representing the youth in the community.
“We have a lot of talent in Prescott, but we have no one to represent those young people on our council,” she said.
Initially she was worried that her age would be a disadvantage. However she found that the community was excited that someone young wanted to get involved. This was clear after the primary when she came in second place, only 64 votes behind the candidate who received the most votes.
Scholl has made an effort to educate those in Prescott about how to get involved in local government. She recalls meeting with a young man who told her that he always wanted to contribute to the community but never felt welcome. He told her now that she was running and may get voted into city council, he is motivated to make an impact as well.
Win or lose, Scholl said she has had a lot of personal growth during her campaign. Meeting with leaders in Prescott has only deepened the love for her hometown.
“Love of community is why I did this in the first place,” Scholl said, “so it is nice to have that reaffirmed.”
Scholl said that coming to ASU exposed her to different perspectives and changemakers, like lessons she learned from taking a class with former counsel to President Nixon, John Dean, and a classroom visit she received from former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl.
“I don’t even know if you’d get [opportunities like] that at another university besides ASU," she said. "They cultivate being original, being yourself. ASU really promotes that idea of going out there and changing the community that you live in.”