10/21/07 — Youngest legislator visits Eastern Wayne

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Youngest legislator visits Eastern Wayne

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 21, 2007 2:02 AM

The state's youngest female legislator visited Eastern Wayne High School on Friday, having been invited by a student who met her while serving as page this past summer.

The visit was arranged by Hailey Best, a junior at Eastern Wayne, who formed a voting awareness program to help teach her classmates about the importance of voting. She calls it the "Young Educated Voters Program."

"I think it is very important to implement this to our students now, so they will be ready to vote once they turn 18," she said. "I believe it is important for our students to hear from different people involved in our government and understand each perspective."

Hailey served as a page for the state House of Representatives, during which time she met Rep. Tricia Ann Cotham, a Democrat from Mecklenburg County.

"Rep. Cotham really sparked my interest, being the youngest female legislator in North Carolina,"Hailey said. "When she is not in session, she is a principal in Mecklenburg County, at East Mecklenburg High School. She is 28, and represents District 100, Mecklenburg County. She got an early start in politics at age 10."

Hailey invited Rep. Cotham to Eastern Wayne, scheduling her to speak to civics classes in the school's media center about the need to importance of being part of the political process, even at a young age.

"I think she will be a huge inspiration to our students at Eastern Wayne," she said.

Her principal, Gene Byrd, said he was very proud of Hailey's initiative.

"She came up with this idea through her interest in politics, and has worked really hard to make this project a reality," he said. "We are also excited that Rep. Cotham has taken an interest in our students, and is willing to take the time to travel out of her district to talk with them."

Ms. Best said she hopes to arrange for other state and local leaders to follow suit and speak to students at the school in the future.