Here on the Stay Work Play blog, we’re celebrating young leaders across the state who have stepped up to participate in the political process! “Meet Local Leader…” is a series highlighting the people under forty (or close enough) who are leading their communities at the local level!
Lovey Roundtree Oliff was born in Brooklyn, New York, raised in Queens, attended boarding school in Connecticut, college in Maine, and lived in New York City and Boston before finally settling in Exeter (and we’re so happy to have her here in New Hampshire)! Lovey says the east coast is a draw for her, “in the 5 years we have lived here, I have happily convinced my father and sister to move up here as well. The more the merrier is our family motto… well, it is now.”
Lovey is a member of Exeter’s Select Board, a fitness instructor, and the host of a new, weekly podcast called The PodCaste System! The PodCaste System tackles issues surrounding world politics, race inequities, and privilege, and is a catalyst for social change!
Tell us about your “Path to Politics” — what made you decide to get involved?
Politics has always been on my mind. I can remember taking a course in high school that really opened the door to my political interests. The combination of understanding the law, our country’s history, and the possibility for change through politics really sparked my curiosity. I was lucky enough to take a trip to D.C. with my classmates and remember meeting Senator John Kerry. As Lin Manuel sang, I wanted to be in the room where it happened. Politics can often times have a negative connotation with people but I still see it as a place for lots of possibility if you aren’t afraid to be different.
What’s the number one thing you hope to accomplish while in office?
I want to be the voice in the room of the underserved. My goal is to represent the people who often times go unrepresented because they aren’t the ones attending rallies or donating large sums of money to campaigns. My life experiences taught me that just because people are not physically present, does not mean their concerns and needs shouldn’t be. When I look at cities like Flint, Michigan, I realize how easy it becomes for the less wealthy communities to suffer the highest number of atrocities and I believe it is the job of a politician and of a leader of a community to represent those who cannot (for a variety of reasons) represent themselves. As a former educator, I also want to see improvements in our schools. I want to see literature brought into the schools that portray our country’s real history and not the history we have altered and become accustomed to. I also serve on the SAU16 Budget Advisory committee and choose to voice my concerns and desires there as well.
What advice would you give to another young person interested in getting involved in local politics in NH?
My biggest advice to young citizens interested in politics is to do it! There is no time like the present and all voices are needed. Even if you don’t “win” a particular election or seat, there are many opportunities to volunteer, and learn the ins-and-outs of the system because there are many. The other piece of advice is to be present. Show up to local deliberative sessions. Make your concerns known to local and state representatives. I recently learned that NH was the last state to adopt MLK Day as a local holiday in conjunction with the Federal recommendation placed 16 years prior. Imagine what would’ve happened had young people in New Hampshire voiced their opinions to their Senators and the Governors during that 16-year time span. Change happens when people make it happen. No movement is too small. Politics happens in a voting booth, in a rally, in a town hall… it happens everywhere all the time. Young people especially need to be present and need to make themselves heard.
What advice do you have for citizen advocates?
Similar to the advice I have given to younger, politically minded individuals, I would offer the same for citizen advocates. Make your voice heard. Be present. Be clear. Often times, decisions are made based on information at hand and when the members of a political board only know what they see or hear, it does a disservice to the underrepresented constituents. It’s imperative that citizen advocates, young voters, senior voters, and citizens with school-aged children all take part in the political process and all have people representing and defending their needs.
Finally, just for fun, tell us something about yourself that will surprise people.
My love of fitness displays itself in eccentric ways. Growing up I always felt the pull towards sports that required explanation. In college it was Rugby and I was a tight head prop. Post children, I ran 8+ hour long Spartan races in the Killington Mountain region and most recently, I have picked up Squash (the sport, not the vegetable).