“People like me are not supposed to win elections like these!”
Macaulay Junior Emilia Decaudin seems both energized and a bit stunned at her September 14, 2018 election win, but she is solidly committed to positive change as she begins her term as a member of the New York State Democratic Committee.
Emilia’s interest in public service was piqued during high school in Yorktown, New York. At that time, she worked with the 2016 campaign of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and later joined the New York Progressive Action Network, a grassroots organization. Emilia found she was particularly inspired by the movement’s values and continued to closely follow politics and the Democratic party’s activities in her Westchester community.
But she also observed a frustrating disconnect between the party’s energized, young voters—people like her—and an adherence to the status quo by its entrenched leadership. “The Democratic party has an opportunity right now to adapt to changing demographics,” she explains, “but there’s a tendency to underestimate its younger members. For example, high school and college students are often assigned to outreach duties rather than being asked for their ideas.”
Encouraged by Democratic Party leadership, Yorktown Co-Chair Elliot Krowe, Emilia decided to run for office. With the help of her town Democratic committee, she quickly collected twice the number of required petition signatures to appear on the ballot, and ran unopposed in the September elections. Generally believed to be the youngest Democratic District Leader ever to serve, Emilia’s term will last two years, and she plans to focus on democratization of the party and funding for public higher education.
Emilia is active on her City College campus as well. She is the Vice President of College Democrats of New York and Founder of City College Dems. A CUNY BA student majoring in political theory and intellectual history and studying populism and progressivism, Emilia will use Opportunities Funds to spend a semester in Rheims, France focused on European Affairs and building language skills.
“I want to change the way younger people interact with the party and infuse new energy into the democratic process,” she says.