UNA students and alumni active in political roles

by Associate News Editor Kaitlyn Davis

The political arena is not just Trump and his hair or Clinton and her emails. It is much bigger and includes UNA students and alumni.

Current and former students have done it all, from working for state representatives to holding political office.

Junior Ruby Villalobos, alumnus Thomas Beach and alumna Chassity Martin have all stepped foot into the political arena.

Villalobos is double-majoring in Political Science and Foreign Languages with a minor in Legal Studies. She is an intern for the Alabama House of Representatives through the Alabama Law Institute Legislative Internship program.

Beach’s political involvement started local and grew nationally, he said.

“I started getting offers from around the country (to manage) congressional races and senate races,” he said.

Martin juggled her duties as a student and as a politician.

Martin successfully ran for the Collinwood City Commission when she was 20 years old and still a junior at UNA, she said.

Students should get into politics because the country depends on them, she said.

“We need for our generation to be engaged so they will be able to solve the problems our country will face down the road,” Martin said.

Down the road is not far away, Villalobos said.

“When you drive down the street to your local grocery store to get food, it is law that you must have insurance on your car to be able to drive on the road,” Villalobos said. “You pass street signs with speed limits that you must obey, and your food had to pass (Food and Drug Administration) measures. Basically, government is all around you.”

It is important for students to be politically involved and voice their opinions because the government is inclusive, Villalobos said.

Villalobos’ passion for politics took her by surprise, she said.

“My interest in politics came sort of unintentionally,” Villalobos said. “Kind of like ordering your cheeseburger without all the extra toppings, but then getting the extra toppings anyways so you just eat it, but end up liking it.”

Beach loves politics because of the science behind it, he said.

“(The science is) what you do to win an election,” Beach said. “There’s certain techniques, there’s certain strategies, there’s certain formulas.”

Beach started paying close attention to how politicians avoided directly answering questions during interviews, he said.

“They’re actual names to tactics on being interviewed,” Beach said. “So I could tell who was a very good communications director by how they handled themselves, what tactics they used during interviews. I could see the science behind everything, and that’s why I absolutely loved politics.”

Martin chose to run for the Collinwood City Commission position because Collinwood is her hometown, and she is passionate about watching it grow, she said.

She helped establish Collinwood’s first Industrial Development Board, Martin said.

“My main focus is revitalization of our main street,” Martin said.

Villalobos’ main focus is working for several representatives from both parties who are members of the committees she is on, she said.

Her committees include Military and Veterans Affairs, Child and Senior Advocacy, Public Safety and Homeland Security and the Technology Committee, she said.

Her daily tasks include agenda planning, constituent contact work, answering phones, weekly committee meeting preparation and updating the Alabama Codes, Villalobos said.

Villalobos plans on attending law school and becoming involved in local government, she said.

Beach’s involvement in local government included managing campaigns from 2009 to 2014, he said.

“Here’s the thing about politics, especially campaigning: if you’re single and you don’t have any kids, it is the best job in the world,” Beach said.

Beach attributes some of his political success to Political Science Professor Tim Collins.

“I was so appreciative of (Collins’) guidance and his insight,” Beach said. “He’s just a wonderful professor. His courses on political philosophy kind of teed it off for me.”

Beach encourages students to become politically involved because of the diverse people they will meet through politics.

“You’re going to be interacting with people from all walks of life, and knowing how to do that makes you a better, well-rounded person,” he said.

Students might interact with people as young as age 16. The age Martin was when she became active in politics, she said.

“I helped on a State House race in Tennessee for my district,” Martin said. “After that, I served as President of the Wayne County Republican Women for four years and Secretary of the Wayne County Republican Party for four years as well.”

She also interned for Congressman Mo Brooks at his Shoals district office and Washington D.C. office, Martin said.

Recently she offered her services to the presidential election.

“I ran as a delegate statewide to the Republican National Convention for Marco Rubio,” Martin said.

Voters choose delegates during the primary election to vote for their preferred candidate at the Republican or Democratic Convention, according to abc3340.com.

Martin worked on a two unsuccessful campaigns, that were good learning experiences, she said.

“You learn more about the losses than the wins,” Martin said.