Molly Rockett Got Elected at 20, and You Can Too!
Molly Rockett is a 20-year-old rising senior at the University of Connecticut, a resident adviser on campus, and former president of the College Democrats. She is also a sitting member of the Board of Education in her hometown of Somers, Connecticut.
What motivated Rockett to run for local office before she was even out of college? She had three big things going for her: a desire to serve her community, a support system, and a great campaign strategy.
Rockett wanted to give back to her hometown and saw the Board of Education as the best place for her to do so. “As a product of Somers Elementary School, Somers Middle School, and Somers High School, I know that I owe so much of my current success to the fabulous, top-quality public education I received in Somers,” she said.
This passion for public service was instilled in her by her father, who had served on the same board in the 1990s and brought Rockett with him to volunteer for their town politicians. When Rockett was growing up, on Saturdays they would get up early to drive around town and distribute literature. “We would always talk about local politics during the drive,” she said, “and go out for donuts and coffee afterward.” That early support only grew with Rockett’s decision to run herself, she said, “My parents were both so supportive and excited about my decision to run for the board.”
Mentors like her dad and Kathy Devlin, a town selectwoman who gave Rockett a lot of positive encouragement, were crucial in Rockett’s decision to run for office. She also got encouragement during her freshman year at UConn, when she attended an Elect Her–Campus Women Win workshop. “The biggest thing I took away from Elect Her was that I didn’t have to wait until I gained more ‘experience’ to participate in local government and to assume leadership roles,” she said, “I learned that even as a young woman just a year into college there were multiple opportunities that were within my reach that I was qualified to assume.”
The final piece that helped Rockett to victory was a winning campaign strategy. She and the other candidates in her party worked together to develop their platform: technology, teachers, and teamwork, three things they “decided were critical to the mission of the Board of Education.” After that, they created campaign literature that was “packed with information … to serve as a serious overview of [her] qualifications and educational philosophies.” Rockett said, “I wanted any voter who could get their hands on a brochure to have all the information they needed about my candidacy.”
Then it was time to get out the vote! “My strategy was to speak with as many parents in the community as possible,” she said. “At all of our events I focused most specifically on giving voters a genuine taste of who I am as a student, community member, and leader.”
Rockett is an exceptional role model for young women who are considering a political career, and she believes anyone can follow in her footsteps. “If you have a passion for your community and for service, don’t doubt your qualifications or ability to do the job,” she said. “Be confident in the value of your unique perspective, experiences, and desire to give back.”
She also doesn’t want fear of losing to hold anyone back: “Every person in an elected position made that initial leap into the campaign, and all are usually apprehensive about their performance, but that doesn’t stop them from taking the risk for causes they believe in.”
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