Jenna: I’m Jenna with the Youth Radio and I’m with my cohost Ozy, and we’re going to be interviewing Dakota James Boulette. He had 2,714 votes, which is about 12.7% of all votes for the Eugene School District 4 J Position six. Ozy, would you like to ask the first question?
Ozy: [00:00:26] Yes, I would. What made you interested in being on the school district board?
Dakota James Boulette: [00:00:32] I wanted to bring my personal experience with poverty to the district because the district is struggling with poverty. Hundreds of our students are struggling with housing insecurity or food insecurity. So I thought my personal experience being homeless, being in poverty, I could bring solutions to these problems using my personal experiences.
It’s difficult. For the first few years of my life I was homeless. It it’s hard. And I don’t think a lot of people realize how hard it is until they’re in, they’re put into that situation. We need more support for our unhoused population. What can you do except run and change things?
Jenna: [00:01:18] How old were you when you decided you were interested in being a representative?
Dakota James Boulette: [00:01:23] Well, I think I first developed the interest around the ages of 16, 17, and then I thought about running when I first turned 18. Unfortunately things I wasn’t in the best position and wasn’t able to run those years. So I ended up running a few years later when I was 22.
Ozy: [00:01:42] What was it like running a political campaign during the pandemic?
Dakota James Boulette: [00:01:47] It was absolutely uncomfortable and very, very difficult. My original plan was to do door to door and visit every voter in the district. But ultimately because of COVID and social distancing, that was impossible, which made me have to adapt to a whole different strategy. I just wasn’t able to transition well enough and develop a strategy that would lead me to victory, unfortunately. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes and campaigning is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
Jenna: [00:02:23] What made it hard?
Dakota James Boulette: [00:02:26] It’s just, um, you’re not used to the experiences. If you’re talking to people, it’s a lot of talking. It’s a lot of asking people for money, which I hate doing. It’s very uncomfortable Oh it’s rejection. I talked to dozens of politicians and dozens of different organizations, and I just got rejection after rejection. Nobody wanted to endorse me and it just, it was not a good feeling every single time. You just got to keep going, keep being optimistic that what you’re doing is right.
Ultimately, what kept me going was the fact that I felt like we needed someone advocating in the district for measures that would help prevent poverty. I advocated mostly for a universal free lunch for all district schools.
Ozy: [00:03:19] What were your favorite parts of the election campaign?
Dakota James Boulette: [00:03:23] Meeting the people, meeting the voters and getting to hear the issues that the district is struggling with. And meeting my opponent. Her name is Maya Rabasa. She’s an amazing woman and the board will be lucky to have her. I dropped out two months before election day to endorse my opponent.
Ozy: [00:03:42] What is your advice to others who may be running for the first time?
Dakota James Boulette: [00:03:47] This was my first campaign. Not the last though, I don’t know when the next one will be, but my, the best advice I would be able to give is stick to what works and not what feels good. If it seems easy and is easy, it’s probably not the most effective.
Ozy: [00:04:05] Cool. So that was very helpful. Thank you. Um, thank you so much for sharing your campaign experiences with us. In closing, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Dakota James Boulette: [00:04:17] It was a fun experience. I learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about the district and, based off who got elected this year, I think the district is in good hands. Thank you for having me. It was wonderful. I’m glad you guys invited me.
Jenna: [00:04:32] I’m Jenna and our co-host was Ozy and we were interviewing Dakota James Boulette, who ran for Eugene School District 4J, Position Six. This has been the Youth Radio and the KEPW News team on KEPW LP 97.3 FM, also simulcasting at kepw.org. Thank you for listening.