A UW-Eau Claire student is running for County Board to bring a student’s perspective into local politics

If elected, Lydia Boerboom will focus on conservation efforts, student representation and quality of life in Eau Claire


Photo by Kar Wei Cheng

UW-Eau Claire student, Lydia Boerboom, is running for Eau Claire County Board with elections on April 3, 2018.

On April 3, 2018, the Eau Claire County Board elections will take place with a UW-Eau Claire student among the candidates vying for a seat.

Lydia Boerboom, a junior social work student, is running to bring a voice to students in the Eau Claire community.

“There really isn’t that much student representation,” Boerboom said, “and I think that we are such a big part of the population in Eau Claire, it’s really important to make sure to see that.”

Boerboom said she is the youngest to ever run for a position on the county board by 20 years, and if she were to be elected she would be the youngest to serve by 12 years. Boerboom said after much thought and being asked by multiple people to run, she decided it would be a great opportunity.

Megan Larson, a sophomore communication sciences and disorders student, said she thinks it will impact the board because of her different views, in that, she is a college student representing Eau Claire students.

“I would say she’s probably going to challenge the perspectives of people on what’s important to us as college students,” Larson said. “It’s a lot different than what’s important to someone who is living here with a full-time job, paying taxes and has a family.”

After attending training for local elections, Boerboom said the most surprising information to her was that women need to be asked seven to 10 times on average before agreeing to run for an election in addition to needing $1,000 to $2,000 secured before they will run. A man would not need to be prompted to run and would do so with only seven dollars in his pocket, according to the information provided by training from Wisconsin Progress that Boerboom attended.

“That was kind of sticking in my head the whole time,” Boerboom said, “and if an old guy can do this with ten bucks in his pocket, there’s no way that I can’t do this.”

As a social work student, Boerboom said working toward that career has been an opportunity in itself for her. Abiding by the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics to “promote policies that safeguard the rights of and confirm equity and social justice for all people,” she said social workers need to be involved in politics.

“There is no way social workers can’t be involved in politics when you see that the decisions being made are affecting people in their day-to-day lives,” Boerboom said. “If you think social workers’ jobs are to help people, then you’re helping people by being involved in politics and making sure that your voice is heard.”

Accompanying a platform dedicated mostly to increasing student voices in local government is Boerboom’s focus on conservation in Eau Claire, specifically an interest in maintaining the water quality in the city. Since the start of her internship with the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, Boerboom said she has gained a better understanding of how to keep an eye on policies that are affecting the environment.

Emmie Reynolds, a sophomore communication sciences and disorders student, said she likes the idea of someone college-aged running to represent students.

“I think it’s important for us,” Reynolds said. “Someone our age, with our experience, has a say.”

Boerboom said she is also passionate about the living wage ordinance and wants to raise awareness for the people affected by it.

“The Eau Claire County living wage is a minimum hourly wage rate that is equal to a percentage of the poverty income level set forth annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a family of four,” according to the Eau Claire County Board website.

The ordinance was passed last spring, but some members of the board voted strongly against it. She said she wants to keep a close eye on policies that will create a better quality life for all residents.

Boerboom said being president of the Progressive Students and Alumni gave her the first opportunity to see what City Council and County Board meetings were like before deciding to run.

Boerboom said a goal of her’s, if she were to be elected, is to bring a more diverse voice to the County Board. With more men than women on the board, she said being a woman and being a college student would allow her to bring a different perspective to the table.