AMES, Iowa -- Rachel Junck is a junior chemical engineering major at Iowa State University, and as of last night, a member of the Ames city council. At 20 years old, she is the youngest woman ever elected to office in state history.
Junck, a lifelong Ames resident was prompted to run for city council after seeing a lack of representation in her ward, which is mostly made up of students.
“It was important to me that, as a lifelong Ames resident, but also a student, that I’d be able to bring both of those perspectives to the council. But really have that representation for students that we haven’t had before,” said Junck.
During the November 5th election, Junck narrowly missed earning the majority by seven votes, prompting a runoff. Her campaign embraces a grassroots approach to reaching voters, knocking on every single door they could, leading to a higher voter turnout for the runoff election.
“Outreach you know phone calls, knocking doors all that stuff. We were on campus. We were talking to dorms were registering to go on campus we were going to fraternities, and then we were just knock, we knocked on every single student apartment near campus, every single student apartment door near campus,” said campaign manager Taylor Blair.
The results showed Junck winning with 712 votes to incumbent Chris Nelson’s 587 votes. Nelson was seeking a third term.
“What I was not expecting was a higher voter turnout for the runoff election, which is amazing that we got even more people involved and engaged to fill in one bubble on the ballot,” said Junck.
Junck began her campaign in June and admits that voters were at first skeptical of her age. Something that eventually changes after she laid out some of her campaign goals and continuously hitting canvassing across the ward.
“All of the other council members have full time jobs and family commitments as well. So, being a student is my other commitment, but I'm fully committed to doing the best that I can on the council and serving the people of Ames,” said Junck.
Junck is excited to take her seat in January and working on issues like affordable housing, local climate action, and improving the quality of life for people in Ames.
“We didn't leave any votes not asked for. And I think that's how we won. We didn't leave any voice for granted,” said Blair.