By Carin Holmes
Natalie Santos, a Fall 2021 graduate of KU, was elected as the youngest member of the Allentown City Council in the city’s history in Nov. 2021.
Santos was inspired to run for a position on the City Council in the summer of 2020, when she became interested in and attended demonstrations for the Black Lives Matter movement. She said that there were conversations about implementing plans for the future, and one topic that kept coming up was politics and how people could get involved.
“In local politics it is mostly older people and not people of color, so it was important to run as someone who is a person of color,” said Santos.
Santos was graduating from Dieruff High School in Allentown when she decided to attend KU for its Psychology program and proximity to home. During her time at KU, she served as the Vice President and Secretary of Women Achieving Visions of Excellence (WAVE), which helps students network with women who work in professional settings of the students’ interest. In addition to WAVE, Santos was also a member of TRIO which is a service designed to help students achieve their collegiate and post-collegiate goals.
The position of City Councilwoman is a part time job, which allows Santos to pursue a “day job” working as an Assistant Counselor at Counseling Solutions of the Lehigh Valley.
Her job as a City Councilwoman requires meetings every Wednesday, alternating between meetings for committees and for the entire council. Outside of meetings, Santos spends time meeting with people who want to discuss issues in the community with her and attending community events, which she said is not required, but she feels as though it is something a good City Councilwoman would do.
Santos said that she doesn’t know if she will want to run for City Council again when her four-year term is up. She wants to continue the cycle of having younger people in office and inspire those her age and younger to run.
When asked what advice she would give to a college student considering running for an elected position, Santos said, “Please just do it. They might tell you you need to be a Political Science major to run, but that is not true. You just need to care about your community. Don’t let anyone tell you no; just run.”