After eight workshop-style sessions over the past six months, the Ms President US candidates took the Ridgefield Playhouse stage on Sunday, March 27th at 12pm and vied to become the next Ms President US of their town. Award-winning comedian Christine O'Leary officiated the event, which was free and open to the public, and had 250+ people in attendance and another 230 watching via Zoom.
Students from fourth to eighth grade had a wide range of campaign platforms including increasing bike lanes and cycling safety, utilizing the arts in addressing mental health needs, promoting the power of vegetarianism, and many more. Girls running a campaign found the best way to present their research, speak on their topic, and display why they should be the next Ms President US of their town.
Former Ms President US Ridgefield, fourth year mentor, and high school senior Hersha Chauhan kicked off the event by introducing host Christine O’Leary. Laura Smits, President of the Connecticut League of Women’s Voters was also in attendance and shared the historical struggle for women’s suffrage and equality.
In addition, many elected officials were in attendance, in person and on a Zoom live stream, witnessing the leaders of the next generation. Among them were State Senator Julie Kushner, State Representative Aimee Berger Girvalo, Ridgefield First Selectman and Board Chair Rudy Marconi, Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, Hamden Mayor Lauren Garrett, Wilton Selectwoman Kim Healy, Former State Senator and Board Member Toni Boucher, Ridgefield Registrar of Voters and Board Member Wayne Floegel, and Former First Selectwoman of Darien Jayme Stevenson.
After a competitive election cycle and a grueling decision-making process for the voters, a Ms President US from each of 6 towns was elected to hold a leadership position and shadow local officials.
From Danbury, CT, Aiza Lateef was elected Ms President US Danbury promoting extracurriculars for children with disabilities. Zooming in from Gilbert, Arizona was Kaia Chiarella who ran on a platform about special needs inclusion in education, winning for her town. Gopika Sheth, a seasoned Ms President US participant of Hamden, CT was elected on her vegetarianism and climate change prevention platform.
Ms President US Norwalk, Juliet Centeno, advocated for menstrual equity. In a highly contested election from Wilton, Anaya Uttamchandani emerged victorious, championing diversity and inclusion. And finally, Ms President US Ridgefield for the 2022-2023 year is Valentina McManus who ran on a campaign of allergy awareness and equality in school lunches.
The elected Ms President US winners will be attending various events in their towns, enjoying speaking engagements, and pursuing their platforms.