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News > Alumni news > Alex Puffette (Class of 2022) recently stood in our local elections.

Alex Puffette (Class of 2022) recently stood in our local elections.

Currently studying at the University of York, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, Alex still found the time to be the youngest candidate across all of the candidates in Tunbridge Wells, aged just 19.
22 May 2023
Written by Lucy Tipler
Alumni news
Alex at the polling station at St John's Church about to go and vote
Alex at the polling station at St John's Church about to go and vote

Alex received 321 votes in the election on 4th May 2023, which though sadly wasn’t enough to win, but was more than 200 votes above the party behind him which is very impressive at such a young age. TWGSB caught up with Alex to find out how his foray into political life was going:

Hi Alex, we are all very proud of you standing in the local elections, how do you feel about it now it's all over? 

Not winning the election was not a surprise, as the Liberal Democrats have had a strong grip on St John’s for a few years now, which when combined with the national picture, made the result inevitable. Though having 321 people in St John’s put their faith in me to represent them is something that I am truly grateful for. However, for me, standing in this election served as a great introduction to the world of elected politics, and what it is like to put yourself forward for political office. By and large, minus a bit of social media abuse which is sadly commonplace in our politics these days, the experience was overwhelmingly positive and showed me just why we need more young people involved in local politics. Attending the election count in person proved that the vast majority of people involved in politics in Tunbridge Wells are lovely people, who truly care about our town. Speaking to my main opponents, the now re-elected Councillor Marguerita Morton (Liberal Democrat) and Dariel Francis (Labour), throughout the day proved just that. 

I was determined to run a positive campaign, and won significant praise from members of opposing parties, notably the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and the Tunbridge Wells Alliance, for the way I ran my campaign. The platform that I ran on this year is still available on my website at the link:  https://alexpuffette.com/st-johns-2023/.

I was keen to focus on the issues that matter to residents in St John’s including tackling anti-social behaviour and supporting our brilliant hospitality industry, the latter of which I have seen ever since I started working at a local pub during my time at TWGSB. I also focused on what we can do locally to improve local education, as while national issues like teacher pay understandably dominate the debate, I don’t think it’s wrong to also be talking about what we can do within our town to ensure our students receive the best education possible. You can read more about my passion for local education here:  https://alexpuffette.com/2023/04/23/delivering-for-schools-in-st-johns/

Ultimately, I put myself forward for election this year because I know that we need local politicians who understand what young people are facing in our contemporary society, and the best way for us to do that is to elect young people to local office. Local politics is far more about people than it is about parties, and while I know that many will disagree with the recent policies and actions of the Conservative Party nationally, I do think that if you read the platform that I stood on this year a lot of people from across the political spectrum would agree with it. 


Alex at the election count, after receiving the result (photo credit:Times of Tunbridge Wells)

When I announced my candidacy for the election in January, I said that I was ‘taking what I hope is my initial step towards changing politics for the better, something which first has to start at home,’ and with the election now over, and with the encouraging reception I received from people across all parties on my positive message, I hope that I have succeeded in that. 

My time at TWGSB shaped me into the person that I am now, and just over a year on from leaving the school I still feel a deep sense of gratitude for what TWGSB did for me. Serving as Head Boy in my final year helped to improve my public speaking skills, particularly when it comes to speaking without notes, which now means I can easily shoot videos, speak to people on the doorstep, and face media interviews with relatively few nerves. I also want to take the opportunity to mention my A-Level teachers who across Politics, History and Economics, engaged me with material that not only has come up in my Politics, Philosophy and Economics Degree, but also even in this election campaign.

Equally, when I came to writing my two political books in 2020 and 2021, the school couldn’t have been more supportive with the process, helping me get the books into local media and stocking a copy of each in the school library. I was delighted to use one of the books to raise money for the TWGSB Sixth Form Centre project, which I felt was the least I could do for the school that gave so much to me.

To anyone at TWGSB thinking about getting involved in politics, running for office at any level is never a bad idea and neither is joining a political party. My key piece of advice would simply be just to go for it! Most of the opportunities that I have had in the world of politics, from doing work experience at the House of Commons with my local MP Greg Clark and the Telegraph Newspaper, to meeting with politicians like Rishi Sunak have been because I just took the opportunities that were in front of me. Some of this is down to luck, but a lot of it is just about not being afraid to put yourself out there.


Alex meeting UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak 

Feel free to get in touch if you are interested in getting involved in politics, obviously you don’t have to agree at all with my political stance to contact me, in fact I far prefer talking politics with people who disagree with me, as you find that it refines and develops your opinions. I have already given advice to numerous fellow young people who are interested in politics, and am always happy to do so. All my contact details are available on my website alexpuffette.com, so please don’t hesitate to reach out via email or social media. 

Best of luck to Alex and we look forward to hearing more about his political career in the future. 

If you have a story you would like to share to inspire the next generation of students leaving TWGSB, please email: connect@twgsboys.kent.sch.uk 

 

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