Kid Governor Candidate Continues to Lead After Election
Posted on 12/02/2021
Kid Governor Candidate Madelyn Sweet

Kid Governor Candidate Continues to Lead After Election

She might not have the title of Connecticut’s Kid Governor, but 10-year-old Madelyn “Maddy” Sweet is undoubtedly a leader in her school and beyond.

The 5th grade student at O’Connell Elementary School was one of six chosen statewide to appear on Connecticut’s Kid Governor ballot. Though she didn’t win the election, she now refers to this experience as “her beginning.”

“I’ll remember that this was my start,” Maddy said.

O’Connell has a legacy of success in the Kid Governor program. There have been seven elections in total with a student from O’Connell on the state ballot three of those years. The first kid governor ever elected, Elena Tipton, was an O’Connell student.

“I believe in the power of giving our students a place to share their voice and become civically active and the Kid Governor program provides the perfect opportunity for our students to do just that,” said Carol Fellenstein, Leadership Team Moderator and 5th grade teacher at O’Connell.

The Leadership Team starts discussing the election and developing platforms in August leading up to the O’Connell primary. Fellenstein said this year’s primary was the largest yet. Maddy was up for the challenge.

Maddy said, “At first I was a little nervous that I’d have to do speeches because I get stage fright, but then I thought about it over time because I’ve always wanted to make a change in the world, so then I just decided to go for it.”

The change Maddy wants to make in the world is personal to her.

“I suffer from anxiety almost every single day and I thought, ‘What about the kids that suffer even more anxiety?’ I want to help them.”

Her campaign platform of Kids and Anxiety resonated with her classmates. When O’Connell’s primary came down to a tie, Fellenstein said Maddy’s “eloquent and heartfelt” speech is what sealed the nomination.

"It meant to me that my school really does think that I would do a good job," Maddy said. 

After a lot of hard work and campaigning, Makhi Ettienne-Modeste of Windsor was elected, who ran on a platform of preventing animal cruelty.

Maddy will attend the inauguration in January and will serve on the kid governor’s cabinet for a year.

“I was a little upset in the beginning because I got all this way, but now I’m happy to help Makhi,” she said. “I love animals and I really hope a lot of animals get saved by Makhi.”

The Cabinet will meet throughout 2022 to advise Makhi throughout his term, discuss how they can support his platform in their own communities, and collaborate with each other as they accomplish their own three-point platforms. 

Leading by example, Maddy will continue to work through her own anxieties to spread her message.

"The kids that suffer from [anxiety] every single minute or day, I still want to help them even though I'm not the kid governor," said Maddy. "I still want to make sure those kids know it's okay to say they have this feeling and just speak up."