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Waterford High School grad optimistic about 38th District run

Waterford — Lauren Shaw has never run for political office before.

But the 20-year-old Waterford High School graduate and Alabama native said she sees her lack of experience as an advantage in the election for state representative from the 38th District.

“It’s young people who are mobilizing to change the discussion in politics and changing where we're headed as a country,” she said.

Shaw moved to Connecticut when her father was stationed in Groton with the Navy in about 2003, she said.

She got interested in Waterford’s nascent Green Party while she was studying alternative political parties at Waterford High School.

She went to a Green Party meeting run by her classmates and was drawn to the grassroots nature of their effort.

“I really like how active they were in the community,” she said.

Shaw said she researched how political parties once served as community organizations, and sees the Waterford Green Party’s activism and service activities as an extension of that.

“I really like how the Green Party really seems to have been stepping into that role,” she said.

She pointed to Waterford’s results in the Connecticut presidential primary elections last month, when Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump got the most support.

“That just shows that people are ready for change,” she said. “I think they were really happy to see a new person — they’re sick of the same old routine with the Democrats and Republicans.”

Shaw plans to graduate in December from University of Connecticut-Avery Point with a degree in martime studies.

She said she has met Republican State Rep. Kathleen McCarty, who is running for re-election to fill the 38th District seat representing Waterford and part of Montville, but disagrees with her on issues like using standardized testing as a measure to rate teachers.

Shaw said she also sees her age as an advantage, not a drawback, in her race against McCarty and Democratic candidate Sharon Palmer, a former Waterford Representative Town Meeting member and moderator who retired as the state’s labor commissioner in October.

"Being a part of the Hartford establishment is not going to help them," she said. "It's going to work against them, in my opinion."

She said voters she has met at campaign events have responded well to her candidacy, once they get over the fact that she won't be allowed to legally drink alcohol until two days after the election in November.

"I believe I have a really great chance, I'm not part of the establishment at all," she said.

m.shanahan@theday.com

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