Political profiles: democrat challenger Kesha Ram

Last year, Kesha Ram was the president of the UVM Student Government Association. This year, the 22-year-old is running for a seat in the Vermont Legislature as a Democratic representative for Burlington’s District 3-4, which encompasses the UVM campus, Hill Section and Old North End. Ram described how bringing the voice of the students to the administration and to the larger Burlington community during her time as SGA president became one of her most effective leadership methods and prepared her for running for the State Legislature.”The best way for us to move forward is for people in the district to have responsive leaders who are speaking to them right here at home before they are speaking for them in Montpelier,” Ram said.”For me, it’s just a continuation of what I did for 10,000 people at UVM,” she said.A Los Angeles native, Ram passed on numerous scholarships to colleges nationwide – even giving up the University of British Columbia’s International Leader of Tomorrow Award – after falling in love with UVM and Burlington.Ram said that she credits UVM with presenting opportunities for her to get involved, develop her leadership skills and learn firsthand how people can really make a difference in their communities.The two most important issues Ram said that she will tackle if elected are the creation of a statewide “green economy” and the improvement of higher education and education in general. She said that these are both topics that she feels are especially important to voters between the ages of 18 and 25, which makes up 50 percent of District 3-4.The establishment of a green economy, Ram said, will entail bringing green industry to Vermont through tax incentives to develop alternative energies as well as resource protection. This, in turn, will create more local jobs and thus give the younger population more of an incentive to stay in-state after graduation.Ram has been teaching preschool at Burlington Children’s Space since graduating in May, and believes it is important to focus on early childhood education. She favors expanding existing childcare programs so that students will have equal opportunities regardless of income.”Currently, 25 percent of the students in the Burlington school district are students of color, and there are 47 languages spoken,” Ram said. “It’s going to take a significant amount of resources and coordinated effort with the state in order to make sure that we can provide all students a world-class education.”Since becoming involved in politics, Ram refers to both leading the SGA at UVM and helping craft a bill (yet to be voted on) with State Representative Rachel Weston as her proudest accomplishments. If passed, the bill will increase access to clean natural resources for all citizens, regardless of race or class. Ram has already knocked on every door in the community – over 3,000 – to listen to the needs and concerns of citizens. She en?courages all young people to get involved in community politics, as well.”We have a genuine accessible political system here,” says Ram. “The voice of the people really matters because of the scale, strong sense of place and empha?sis on local values.” Ram has received endorsements from Governor Madeleine Kunin, Democracy for America and Emily’s List.