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17-year-old becomes youngest elected official in Kentucky

Landin Stadnyk, 17, ran unopposed for a district board position in Scott County, Kentucky.
Image: Landin Stadnyk, the youngest elected official in Kentucky.
Landin Stadnyk, the youngest elected official in Kentucky.Courtesy Landin Stadnyk

A 17-year-old Kentucky teen won a seat on a county board Tuesday, becoming the youngest elected official in the state and one of the youngest in the country.

Landin Stadnyk told NBC News that it was a “surreal moment” when he ran unopposed for conservation district supervisor on the board of Scott County, 30 minutes north of Lexington, Kentucky.

“It still hasn’t fully settled in that I would be the youngest elected official in Kentucky,” Stadnyk, of Scott County, said. “People are expecting me to fall, so I’m trying to just get in the right headspace and mentality to enact the policies I want to see implemented.”

This year wasn’t the first time Stadnyk ran for elected office. In 2018, when he was 15 years old, Stadnyk ran for the same position and lost.

Despite not being eligible to vote, Stadnyk said he was motivated to go into politics at such a young age because of his desire to enact change around him.

The conservation district supervisor was the only position he was eligible to run for at his age, according to Stadnyk. He said he wanted to focus on water quality and farmworkers in Scott County. In his role, Stadnyk will be working on conserving and improving the soil, water and other natural resources in his county.

“Scott County is incredibly rural and one of the fastest growing counties in Kentucky,” he said. “I want to make sure that farmers have the funds and resources they need to be successful.”

Stadnyk said his win was only made possible by organizing from the ground up.

“I ran a grassroots campaign,” he said. “My friends became volunteers to talk to people in the community. We went door-knocking and sent out letters and postcards to get the word out.”

As for other political aspirations, Stadnyk said he was just trying to let the reality sink in before taking office in January while applying to out-of-state colleges.

“I’m looking towards the future, but there is only so much you can plan,” he said. “I’m trying to build up my reputation and just get my feet wet.”

“I just want to leave it in a better place than I found it,” he said.