Student uses senior project to explore politics

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Student uses senior project to explore politics

Senior Alexis Fuller is using her senior project to help a local politician's campaign.

Senior Alexis Fuller is using her senior project to help a local politician's campaign.

Courtesy of Alexis Fuller

Senior Alexis Fuller is using her senior project to help a local politician's campaign.

Courtesy of Alexis Fuller

Courtesy of Alexis Fuller

Senior Alexis Fuller is using her senior project to help a local politician's campaign.

Olivia Griffin, News Editor

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Less than half of eighteen-year-olds are registered voters. Even fewer are actively involved in politics and volunteer in local political campaigns. Senior Alexis Fuller, however, has been doing quite the opposite for the past few months as a volunteer for the re-election campaign for Judge John Payton, fulfilling roles and completing tasks mostly reserved for college students and adults.

“I’ve always been interested in politics, and for my Senior Project, I wanted to do something in that field,” Fuller said.

Fuller has been making the trek down to Plano multiple times a week since August to complete work that is both glamorous and mundane, ranging from making copies of promotional materials to attending elite events with politicians from around the area.

“I’m driving down to Plano later tonight to cut out hundreds of tickets for the campaign,” Fuller said, the faint glimpse of a smile stretching across her face.

Despite the lengthy hours of work and the thirty minute long drive through the pouring rain that ensues, she is looking forward to the task at hand.

Although Election Day was a while ago, voting for Payton’s re-election has only just begun, as Payton will go through multiple series of elections throughout these coming months, and Fuller and the rest of Payton’s team will not know the final results of the election until next spring, when it will be announced whether or not Payton will be spending another four years in the bench. In the mean time, the committee will be working on gaining the support of Collin County voters.

“Right now, I’ve just been helping Judge Payton and his team plan a fundraiser in December, as well as helping with social media and getting the message out,” Fuller said.  “The fundraiser will have music and food, and is trying to get Payton’s name out there. It’s a family event, and he will be trying to get voters mobilized as well.”

One of Fuller’s most memorable experiences was when she had the opportunity to meet Ken Paxton, the current District 8 Senator at a campaign event.

“He were very cordial, and shook my hand,” Fuller said.

This experience has been complemented by the fact that Fuller has been enrolled in AP U.S. Government and Politics this semester.

“I have been able to see for myself some of the things that I have learned about in AP Government,” Fuller said. “It’s been an interesting real world application.”

After she graduates next spring, Fuller plans on attending the University of Texas at Austin and studying Chemistry or International Relations.

“I definitely want to go into politics,” Fuller said. “I don’t know if I want to be a Justice of the Peace, but something in Public Service definitely interests me.”

This campaign is not Fuller’s first experience in public service – she and several other classmates organized a blood drive for the Red Cross that took place during the Lovejoy Country Run last May.

Fuller was offered the opportunity to work on the campaign earlier this year by Payton himself, an Allen resident who currently serves as a Justice of the Peace and handles minor civil cases and misdemeanor trials, truancy issues, and legal proceedings such as marriages. Despite occupying the lowest tier of the justice system, Payton has used his power to make a lasting impact not only in the lives of aspiring politicians such as Fuller, but also in the lives and futures of the youth who appear in his courtroom.

“He’s kept hundreds of children out of the juvenile detention center,” Collin County Commissioner Jerry Hoagland said in a biography about Payton on the Dallas Morning News.

With her early participation in politics, Fuller is following in Payton’s footsteps, as Payton also entered politics at a young age. At the age of eighteen, when most young adults are focused on graduating high school, getting jobs, transitioning to college, and moving out, Payton was running for the position of Justice of the Peace for Collin County. After receiving 52 percent of the vote in the 1990 Republican primary, Payton was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest judge, a title which was only surpassed in 2011 by another Justice of the Peace from Indiana.

“Politics is everywhere, even in the small things,” Fuller said. “There’s always something political going on. It’s almost like a chess game, where everything you say ultimately has a goal.”

With a such an early start on a political career, Fuller’s friends predict that she could one day end up in the Oval Office.

“I’d vote for you, if you ran for president,” senior Nemul Khan announced to Fuller one rainy afternoon while waiting in the chilly B-hall classroom for their AP Literature class to begin.

“Do you think that you would ever run?” senior Chloe Shay, another one of Fuller’s classmates, asked.

“I don’t know,” Fuller admitted. “I guess that we’ll just have to wait and see.”