Hayley Young ran and won her first election at age 23. Even though her opponent spent nearly twice what she did, Hayley walked away with 67% of the vote. Now a Supervisor on the Dane County Board in Madison, Wisconsin, she sat down with Project Sheila’s founder Eliza Cussen to talk shop.
Project Sheila: Can you tell us a little about you and your district?
Hayley Young: I graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015 with a degree in Political Science and International Studies and a certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies. I work two part-time jobs, one in our state capitol as an aide to Assembly Representative Melissa Sargent, and another as an advocate at the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition.
In April 2016, I ran for Dane County Board and won. I now serve on three of the Board’s committees. The seat I represent includes the college campus and is primarily made up of students and young professionals.
PS: When did you first think about running for office? What inspired you to take the plunge and run in this particular race?
HY: I decided to run for County Board about a year before election day, while I was participating in Emerge Wisconsin’s candidate training program. I’d been a student leader on campus, and people around me were encouraging me to run for this particular race. I still had some reservations, but I got the tools and support I needed to take the plunge.
PS: What challenges did you face as a young woman running for county board?
HY: Many of the things that made running difficult weren’t about being young, or a woman. But there were a few times where that really came front and center. I remember doing an interview with a local reporter, and he said to me “well your seat doesn’t really do anything”. Now, I know what I would say to that which is my seat has equal voting power to everyone else’s but at the time I had no idea what to say.
I think being a young woman and an elected official right now has some unique challenges. I still feel like I have to work harder to make sure I am taken seriously, because when you are the only person under 30 in a room over and over again you end up representing all millennials. But at the same time, I have some unique advantages. In my first year, several of my female colleagues reached out to me to make sure I had what I needed to navigate my first budget, and I am still getting offered opportunities for more leadership and involvement.
PS: What role did your website play in your campaign?
HY: The website was really important for fundraising because having a link I could direct people to over the phone was key. It is a lot easier to say, “go to hayleyforcountyboard.com/donate” on the phone than to try to read out a nonsensical URL to something like Act Blue. It is also where I hosted my endorsements, bio, and information about my policy platform. This really pulled all my campaign activities together.
PS: How did you approach getting your website built?
HY: I had a tiny budget so I ended up using a free website service called Weebly. I paid $20 to have the domain link with the free service. I ended up having a friend design a logo, and another friend take pictures. I then used the free website builder to put it all together. It is just fine for what I was doing at the time, but as I am preparing for running this next year I know I will need a new logo, new photos and will need to revamp the text as well as the layout. Before Project Sheila launched I was looking into alternatives to Weebly.
PS: What are you running for next? Are you planning on approaching digital campaigning differently?
HY: I am running for re-election this next spring, and have considered using my website more this next cycle. I would love to have a better logo, and better graphic template for endorsements etc. I just used the graphic design tool Canva to overlay photos of endorsers who gave me a quote with my campaign logo to post on facebook. Those usually got a great post reach, but looking back they do have a very amateur look to them. I know people will expect a more professional look from me now that I’m an incumbent.
PS: Any advice for the sisterhood on building campaign websites?
HY: I would say do more research, I picked Weebly because it was easy to use and cheap. I didn’t really spend much time trying to find out what else was out there. It’s a huge relief to have Project Sheila’s support for my next campaign. I can basically hand over my website to them and spend my time knocking doors.
Dreams of running? Project Sheila has your back. Let’s chat about how we can get your campaign website up, running, and raising money.