By Andrea Flores
DENVER (CBS4)– Living with a foster family in Denver’s Whittier neighborhood, 18-year-old Tay Anderson says he can relate to the struggles within his own community.
“I decided I wanted to run when I became homeless,” said Anderson, who has been in and out of foster homes over the last few years. “One in six students, and families, in DPS are homeless.”
Anderson is running for the District 4 seat on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education. He’s the youngest person to ever run for the position.
“[Homeless] scream and shout for equality and equity within Denver Public Schools, and Denver Public Schools won’t listen, and so I’m here to give them that voice and to be their champion.”
A recent graduate of Manual High School, Anderson served as student body president for two years, and was also chair of the Colorado High School Democrats.
“We have had a large movement of public schools being closed down in our area,” Anderson said. “[They’re implementing] charter schools, and i’m not anti-charter, but I am pro-neighborhood schools and I want to make sure we are safeguarding those neighborhood schools for all our students.”
He’s also campaigning for an increase in teacher’s salaries, and more transparency within the school board.
“I want people to remember what school board races actually mean, and what the power of the school board holds for the future of our students,” Anderson said.
Anderson is already getting endorsements from big name politicians, including former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb.
“I think he brings a new energy and will bring a new spirit to the board that usually tends to vote 7 to 0,” Webb told CBS4’s Andrea Flores. “Anytime the whole board is voting the same way on everything, just seems like too much collusion. I’d like to see someone shake it up a little bit.”
Despite his age, Webb believes Anderson has experience other candidates don’t.
“He knows what kids in school are talking about, he knows what kids in school are interested in, and he knows what kids are suffering from,” Webb said.
Anderson hopes to get voters ages 18 to 24 out to the polls on November 7.
Until Election Day, Anderson plans to enjoy his summer, as all 18-year-olds should.
“I’ll play video games, continue to hang out with friends, go to Elitch’s, campaign. Campaigning is fun for me.”
Rachele Espiritu and Jennifer Bacon are running against Anderson for the District 4 seat.
Espiritu is the incumbent trying to protect her seat.
“We are creating leadership opportunities through our student board of education, giving a voice to our students to step into something like this,” said Espiritu.
Bacon says experience is a must when it comes to making decisions for one of the largest school district in Colorado.
“We have very urgent issues that we have to solve and we don’t have time, unfortunately, for someone to learn while on the job,” said Bacon. “And that’s why I’m still in this race.”