Here on the Stay Work Play NH blog, we’re celebrating young leaders all over the state — and we have a lot to celebrate! Last fall, New Hampshire saw a boost in young people taking office at the state level. In fact, 42 of our representatives are under 40 years old. You’ll get to meet all of them on this space, but we also want to shine a spotlight on the young people leading their communities at the local level!
Meet Kelly Boyer!
In 2018, Kelly was elected to the Goffstown Board of Selectmen and has been noted as the first LGBTQ+ representative for Goffstown, the first woman elected in over 10 years, and the presumed youngest elected Selectman in the history of the town.
Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Kelly moved to Manchester in 2008 when she was working for the Corporation for National and Community Service. She served for two years with AmeriCorps and fell in love with her community and her work. She and her wife bought their house in Goffstown in 2015 and are proud to call Goffstown home!
Kelly works as the Human Resources Information Specialist at Ascentria Care Alliance in Concord. In addition, Kelly is a Democratic State Committee member and a 2019 New Leaders Council Fellow. Kelly recently won the “Young Elected of the Year” from the New Hampshire Young Democrats and started the NH elected women’s group “Badass Lady Legislators.”
Tell us about your “Path to Politics.” What made you decide to get involved?
It was definitely never part of the plan, but the short answer is that I thought I could be helpful! When I moved to Goffstown I started watching local politics and thought that my background in nonprofit management and strategic development could be useful. I was confident that I could bring new ideas and a fresh perspective to the table. I think that across the state we have stuck with what has worked and effectively have not been able to proactively become more efficient and grow. Overall, it’s not that I saw big things that needed to change, just lots of things that we could be doing better. I am invested in Goffstown and want to be involved in the future of my community.
Another thing that propelled me to run for office is that there were no young people and no females on our Board. Across the state, I see a lack of diversity on Select Board’s, Councils, and municipal committees. I believe strongly that my generation has a responsibility to step up and get involved and those currently holding office have a responsibility to train new members to serve on these boards and committees. We need to work together to combine new perspectives, new ideas, and a difference in background, with experience and knowledge. Then our towns and cities can thrive within diversity. I want to see more young people, more women, more people of color, and overall a true representation of our communities!
What’s the number one thing you hope to accomplish while in office?
There are so many things! I would say the number one though is a connection. I believe that we can do a better job connecting with residents and in turn getting them involved in what’s going on locally. I want to take a new approach to connection and communication and have started utilizing social media and in-person events to connect with residents. I write meeting recaps after each meeting I strive to be accessible, engaged, and actively keep residents up to date and well informed.
What advice would you give to another young person interested in getting involved in local politics in NH?
Run! If you think that you’ll be good at it, do it! I often hear people say that they don’t think they’re qualified but the reality is that if you’re willing to show up and do the work, I want to work with you. There are so many ways to get involved from running for office to just being well informed that you really can find a way to be involved that suits you. Reach out to your local officials, attend community events, and be engaged!
What advice do you have for citizen advocates?
Get involved and bring your neighbors with you! Being informed and involved in local politics is so important. Across the County, municipal elections are often have the lowest voter turnout. In my town, we have on average 11% of registered voters making decisions for everyone. We need residents to take a stake in what’s happening locally so that the government can work better for all of us. If you feel passionate about something, show up, write, call, – speak out! There is not always something that we can do, but bringing your concerns to your leadership is an important part of the process.
Finally, just for fun, tell us something about yourself that will surprise people.
I met my wife while playing internationally competitive roller derby! We skated together as teammates and now have a house with our three dogs and flock of chickens! I am also a coffee enthusiast and would be part of the audiobook members-only club if such a thing existed.