Saira Blair has successfully run on a conservative agenda in her home state of West Virginia. Photo by Deborah Gyapong

Young U.S. politician proves age no barrier to making a difference

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  • May 26, 2017

OTTAWA – At an age when many teens struggle just to get that high school history essay done, Saira Blair was making her own history.

At the age of 18, she became the youngest state lawmaker in the U.S. when she was elected to West Virginia House of Delegates in 2014.

This was no one-time fluke. The young Republican was re-elected in 2016 with almost 70 per cent support in her district and has become not just an effective politician, but an outspoken advocate for both pro-life and youth.

“People aren’t always going to be happy with what you have to say,” Blair, 20, said in an interview while attending the March for Life’s youth conference in Ottawa earlier this month, where she addressed 800 young people.

“I have taken a lot of criticism for my stances, but the more negative comments I take, the more of an impact I know I’m going to have,” she said. “I’ve learned not to take them too seriously.”

Blair, who ran her campaign on a pro-family, pro-marriage, pro-life platform, was introduced to politics early by her father, Craig, who was in the House of Delegates and later became a Republican senator.

“I was familiar with politics and always thought it was something I’d be interested in,” she said.

But she wasn’t expecting to get involved so young.

She traces her desire to run for office to her participation in Youth in Government, an organization made up of about 300 students across West Virginia. They wrote pieces of legislation and presented to the government. “It was everything I do now, today,” she said.

“I realized how great the program was and how amazing my generation was — how passionate they were — and I decided I didn’t want to wait, I wanted to do it now,” she said.

Blair’s first political fight came in a primary election in 2013.

“I started with a lot of grassroots campaigning, just interacting with the public as much as possible, expressing with them where I stood on the issues,” she said.

Once elected, the young conservative wasted no time in getting to work. In her first year, she was able to co-sponsor several pieces of pro-life legislation. One banned abortion after 20 weeks, another would require a numbing agent for the unborn child so he or she would not experience pain during an abortion.

Blair, who attends the Baptist church in her hometown of Martinsburg, said two out of three West Virginians describe themselves as pro-life so much of the criticism she has received has come from out of state.

“It is overwhelming,” she said. “but if you believe in what you are standing up for, it makes it a lot easier. I have since learned it’s a sign you’re being effective.”

In addition to the hard work, Blair had to overcome some personal fears.

“I used to be terrified of public speaking,” she said. “It was hard, a difficult path actually getting elected. The job has been stressful.”

Though Blair has not officially decided, she may not run again. “I don’t believe in career politicians.”

If that’s the case, the West Virginia University student said she wants to go to graduate school and study business.

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