Kentucky is a state of longstanding traditions including the Kentucky Derby, the Bourbon Trail, and one of the few state political forums, Fancy Farm Picnic — the last of which will greet two untraditional statewide politicians in State Treasurer Allison Ball and Agricultural Commissioner Ryan Quarles this August.
The two UK College of Law graduates are also two of the youngest statewide politicians, and they returned to the Boone Center Thursday night to for an intimate dinner and discussion on the importance of conservative values and civil action in young people with the College’s Federalist Society.
“I think my experience at UK Law instilled into me a desire to make a difference in Kentucky in the role that I was in,” Ball said. “You get civically minded and that was the basis for wanting to be involved and make a difference.”
Many members of UK’s Federalist Society currently hold office or are on counsel in the Bevin administration, according Ball. She and Quarles were both members of the Federalist Society when they went attended the law school together.
“In the Federalist Society you begin with a premise of preserving freedom, limiting government, just the structure of government that the founders created, you begin with a respect for the law,” Ball said. “I feel like the Federalist society was a great grounding for me and what I believe.”
As the keynote speaker of the evening Ball enlisted students to hold onto the values they developed in their time in the organization, and to hold fast to the tradition of law laid out in the constitution.
Quarles, who is currently the youngest statewide elected official in the U.S., told his story of exceeding expectations that he would only have a future as a tobacco farmer by passing the Bar exam while he was running for his first office in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
“Our generation, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum … does have a few things in common that we all want. We want transparency in government. We want to know where our money is being spent. We expect government to be responsive, have quick turnaround and be user-friendly,” Quarles said. “Millennials are going to have to pick up our weight and get involved and make sure that we start addressing long-term issues now, such as our national debt or the future of social security or even our pension crisis.”
Quarles said that UK is already a leader in the state and nation in improving its state’s agriculture because of its presence in every county and relationships made with local farmers and distributors.
He also said that the Department of Agriculture is communicating with Aramark, UK’s Dining Service, to find ways it can bring in more local producers to feed students.
Toward the end of the night, third-year law student Sloane Skinner passed off the role of president of the Federalist Society, a role that has only been filled by four women beginning with Treasurer Ball, to first-year James Yoder.
“As young conservatives and libertarians involved in the Federalist Society, to see two recent graduates already in statewide positions in Kentucky shows us how ready Kentuckians are for new young leadership, and I think that is very promising for our generation,” Yoder said.