O’Hara native elected president of Penn State College Democrats
For Penn State University junior Kelsey Denny, politics is her priority, particularly with the May 21 primary election inching closer.
The O’Hara resident was elected president of the College Democrats on April 1.
This club has equipped me in ways I could have never imagined. I attribute all of my personal and political growth to this club and the people in it who have stepped into my life and shown me the best version of myself. I am THRILLED to be the President of the College Democrats! https://t.co/XHVKWa82Gs
— Kelsey Denny (@KelseyDenny) April 2, 2019
“Obviously (primaries for local officials) aren’t as big or interesting as presidential primaries to most,” Denny said. “But judges and commissions are decided.”
The people on the ballots could be deciding how elections are run in the state, she said. Gerrymandering and voters’ rights will be issues at the state level.
“They have the most direct influence on our lives,” Denny said.
College Democrats is open to undergraduate and graduate students. Denny said she’s thrilled to have been elected to the top spot.
“It makes me the face of the Democratic party here,” she said.
She estimated about 150 youngsters walk through the club doors to work closely with the Center County Democratic committee.
They perform traditional duties such as encouraging voter registration, organizing rallies and making posters.
They man the phone banks. But this is a new generation — members capitalize on social media to get their word out.
“Technology is an unbelievable tool, especially for campaigning and events. Twitter is our most profound tool,” Denny said.
At a recent town hall focused on gun violence, attendees were encouraged to tweet questions beforehand. The tool engages and energizes people, said Denny, who is majoring in political science and women’s studies.
Facebook is used often, too, for voters to read about candidates and their platforms.
In the end, it’s all about getting out to vote, and Denny pushes hard for people to use their voices.
“Young people are very much stronger than they think they are. Get involved,” she said.
Denny prioritizes the need to help what she called “vulnerable people.” She used the metaphor of wanting everyone to climb the ladder of success and said “our society needs to get all individuals near enough to the ladder to grab it.”
“Republicans want the same thing. Sometimes, we have different ways of getting there,” she said.
The young woman understands diverse views. She comes from an involved family — her father John Denny serves on O’Hara council. Her parents met while working on Republican campaigns in New York and were drawn to Pittsburgh.
Kelsey’s brother, Patrick, is working on the U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris presidential campaign in Baltimore. Her sister, Cassie, is a sophomore at Fox Chapel Area High School who has stepped up to help with campaign work.
“I thank my parents for raising me to believe I have a choice in my life, for helping me become me regardless of politics,” Denny said.
A 2016 FCA grad, Denny credits some of her high school teachers for helping to expand her political views as well. They encouraged to get involved; her AP U.S. Government course ignited her need to register to vote, she said.
“I want to invest my life in helping people and impact real change,” she said.