The first Vermont chapter of the Young Democrats announced its official launch this month — and its roots are in Rutland.
The organization, which is for Vermont Democrats under the age of 36, was founded by 2021 Rutland High School graduate, Giovanni Falco, and Rutland City Alderwoman Anna Tadio. It is the first young Democrat group in Vermont to be recognized by the Young Democrats of America.
The announcement was made on May 12 at the 24th annual Curtis-Hoff Dinner, the largest Democratic fundraiser in the state and host of an awards ceremony for members of the party that have made a difference in their community.
According to Falco, who also serves as the VT Young Democrats’ president, Vermont had never been one of the 49 United States and territories that have official chapters of the Young Democrats of America prior to this organization’s launch.
“That (was) a huge problem because there’s a young Republicans organization in Vermont and, at this point in time, young Vermonters don’t have a voice in their community, in their state or within the party. Vermont as a whole doesn’t have a voice at the national convention,” Falco said.
Falco added that the idea for the group was first brought up at last year’s Curtis-Hoff Dinner after he met Tadio and had a discussion about how to get more young people involved in the party.
From there, Falco said he and Tadio started by working with the Vermont Democratic Party and Chair David Glidden and met with the Young Democrats of America to get solidified support on all levels.
A graduate of Emerge Vermont, an organization that trains Democratic women to run for office, Tadio said that a large part of her 2022 state Senate campaign involved encouraging more young people to vote.
She added that there are many key legislative issues that impact young people and their desire to stay in Vermont.
“We are looking to engage young people and hear from them about issues that matter and then take that and amplify their voices,” Tadio said. “I found that Rutland County is lacking in young people’s voices. And although the Vermont Young Democrats will be statewide, we are founding it here in Rutland County — which is historically not one of the bluer parts of the state.”
Emerge Vermont Executive Director Elaine Haney said that the group is a necessary effort in the state and that she was thrilled to hear a Young Democrats organization will be available to interested people across the state.
She added that the support of a national organization will help provide the group some stability
“Folks who are thinking of getting involved with something will feel more inclined if they have the support of a national organization behind them,” Haney said. “It will hopefully give the group more traction in the state and provide more support to help them focus on what they need to do, as opposed to just trying to exist.”
Moving forward, Falco said the goals of the group are to increase young voices within the party and the state, give young people the opportunity to engage in politics and in their communities and provide training opportunities on canvassing, supporting people’s candidacies and on becoming a candidate.
“One of the most important things is, to just have fun and provide a space for students to become part of a larger community and take on challenges that drive their social and educational development. (They will) be able to work with a team on an issue that matters to them most and try to make a real difference in the state at the same time,” Falco said.
Falco said the group will be making itself present at local events, including the upcoming Friday Night Live events in Rutland.
The organization will also hold a launch party in August and those interested can find updates at @YoungDemsVT on Twitter and Instagram and on the VT YoungDems Facebook page.
The organization is accepting members, and a sign-up form can be obtained by sending a direct message to one of its social media accounts.
“At the root of this is wanting to get out the vote and that, at the bare minimum, people in our communities and people younger than 36 are voting. This is a demographic that is largely not participating in elections across the country, and I just want to get people engaged and invigorated,” Tadio said. “If all you are doing is voting once a year, that matters.”