In Versailles, Kentucky, a young voice has emerged in the election for Versailles city council that hopes to reinvigorate the small central Kentucky town.
Tristan Ferrell, a nineteen-year-old sophomore at the University of Kentucky, has been campaigning for the Versailles city council election since August. Ferrell decided to run for city council to bridge the generational gap on the council and act as a “voice for the future of Versailles.”
Youth and community engagement are essential to the bettering of any community, according to Ferrell. “If the community can’t get involved or don’t have the tools to get involved then we’re gonna stay the same. We should be just listening to what people want,
figuring out the best way to make that happen,” said Ferrell.
Ferrell asserts that while Versailles is in need of necessary economic and social development, it is possible for the city to grow while maintaining its unique qualities, emphasizing that “we need to keep it that way.”
“Look at the surrounding counties and cities and they are light years ahead of us in development, infrastructure, and population,” said Ferrell. “Versailles has stayed stagnant for so long, but I think people are yearning for a bit of change.”
“We don’t want to become a Lexington or a Georgetown or a Bardstown. We don’t need strip malls on farmland, we should be renovating and revitalizing and reworking our downtown and our urban boundary to fit the needs that people want,” said Ferrell.
Although Ferrell has been working with a “ham sandwich” budget, he finds that more grassroots campaigning has allowed for better community connection and transparency.
“I just go door to door, knock on every door, and if they don’t answer I leave a flyer with them. I try and follow up and I always give them the opportunity to call me or email me with any questions they have. I’d rather go door to door and actually listen to people than just be somebody that has my name plastered everywhere,” said Ferrell.
Even while facing a lack of receptivity to his campaign, Ferrell has found value in having simple, everyday conversations with the voters of Versailles.
“You go to some people’s houses and they are just tired of politics, you can tell. So, they really don’t wanna talk to you. But, you hit that one house in a neighborhood and someone really wants to step out on the front porch and sit down and have a conversation…,” said Ferrell. “Even if I have a bad day campaigning and not that many people answer doors and I feel like it wasn’t productive if I can have one good conversation with somebody I feel like it was worth it.”
Admittingly, Ferrell recognizes that his young age may cause some individuals to underplay his candidacy, although he has found that his youth has been more beneficial than harmful.
“I’ve definitely had a few doors slammed in my face in my time campaigning. [But] I’ve had more positive feedback than anything. You have a lot of young people across the nation stepping up and realizing that their opinion and their experiences are just as valid as people who have just sat in office and collected a paycheck for twenty years,” said Ferrell.
All and all, Ferrell characterizes his campaign as one that promotes community engagement, transparency, and the significance of every individual’s voice. In Ferrell’s words, a vote for him is a “vote for the future of Versailles.”
“I think people should vote for me based on the fact that I’m not particularly scared to give my opinion. I think a lot of young people think that they can’t step up to the plate with adults or older people because they feel like their opinion doesn’t matter or their voice doesn’t matter. People my age are the future of this town,” said Ferrell. “If officials here want to see people coming back to here then they should be working with the people of that age. They should be working with the future of the city.”