Kelly Krout, 37, is a graduate student working toward her master’s degree in social work. She’s a mother of seven young boys and a children’s book author. 

She’s also running for public office. 

You can find her dancing and joking around on TikTok with 43.5k followers sporting her T-shirt, a beaming smile and personality to match. This election, local and national, has been concentrated insanity mixed into an already emotionally and physically drained population. Millennials and those even younger — although one of the most politically involved generations to date — are one of the most jaded and exhausted groups of voters.

Eighty-eight percent of millennials don’t trust the media. Eighty-six percent don’t trust Wall Street while 82 percent don’t trust Congress and 74 percent don’t trust the federal government to make the right decision on anything. 

Why the hell would someone so young want to run for office in this election?

“I looked around and saw everyone announcing their run for office in my area, and there were no Democrats,” said Krout, a candidate for Arkansas state representative. “That’s when I thought, ‘Well, shoot. That’s a wide-open door. I’ll just keep going until someone tells me to stop.” 

The seat Krout is vying for has been rarely contested, and she felt it was time for a progressive voice to be heard. “There was no one representing my voice,” she said. “Man, we need some balance, and for democracy to work, we have to have options. I didn’t see any, so I decided to make myself that option.” 

Before deciding to pursue a public service career, Krout was a stay-at-home mother with several foster children. She attributes much of her campaign to the hard lessons she learned from the children her family took in during the seven years of being a part of the foster care system. 

Several kids came through their home, she said because their parents were in poverty. “Poverty should never be the reason a child ends up being taken from their family,” she said. One of her goals is to work toward better systems that keep families out of poverty. 

And that runs parallel to making sure people in her community are physically and mentally healthy, she said. Better healthcare and the normalization of mental healthcare as a core part of healthcare, in general, is necessary to making communities stronger, Krout said.

People are ready for a change, she said, something drastically different. And she’s taken that to heart when campaigning. Krout said she wanted a campaign that didn’t resemble anything she’d seen before. Going door-to-door during a pandemic didn’t strike her fancy and didn’t fit her personality — leading to a casual, upbeat and youthful TikTok campaign that has scooped up over 950,000 likes.

Click here to watch one of Krout’s most popular TikToks. 

“There are days where I ask myself what I have gotten myself into, because people are awful sometimes,” she said. “I hear from people who say they’d love to run for office, but they say hearing what others say about [Krout] is enough to never consider running. That’s so sad.” 

Since running she has met a surprising number of people who share her same perspectives and passions while running headfirst into a heap of hatred.

“I wanted to be my authentic self,” she said. “I avoided politics for a long time because it was intimidating. I didn’t think I could really understand it, and I was falling for the understanding that politics and policy were for the elite.”

She said she wants to debunk the belief that regular citizens can’t run for office and make a difference. 

“Is now the right time to run for office?” Krout asked, “I don’t know. I am a grad student. I have lots of kids. There’s always something going on, but I am really passionate about making a change in my community for my kids and their generation.

“If I wait until it’s a better time, it’ll be too late for them. I want to show them that you step up and do the work that needs to be done when it’s there,” she said.  

Kelly Krout is running for office in Arkansas, but her campaign looks a tad different. (Contributed by Kelly Krout)

A number people under 45 are also running for seats in Congress and governor’s races. We listed them here, and will update up until the election.