Iowa State student elected to hometown school board


Courtesy of Chad Johnson

Cody Woodruff, 20, is running for school board in his hometown of Carlisle. Woodruff is a junior at Iowa State and vice speaker for Student Government. 

Alex Connor

By a margin of 31 votes, Iowa State political science student Cody Woodruff became unofficially elected as the youngest Carlisle School Board representative in its board’s history Tuesday night. 

Woodruff, as far as he is aware, also became the youngest working elected official in Iowa at age 20—with just a month separating him from I-35 school board official Josh Hughes who won his candidacy at age 19 two years ago.

“I’m looking forward to getting to work,” Woodruff said. “I’m humbled by this, but still a little in shock.”

Woodruff made the decision to run for Carlisle School Board in February and since then has been making grassroots efforts to run his campaign, including going door-to-door.

Voter turnout was roughly 565 people—which with about 5,500 registered voters–equated to about 9 percent, Woodruff said. According to Woodruff, this is triple from what turnout was in 2015.

Woodruff said that he felt this rise in turnout could be credited to the contested election in Carlisle for school board seats, but also the door-to-door efforts made by many of the candidates to push constituents to vote.

Waiting for results alongside family, Woodruff said it was nerve-wracking. However, being a political science major, he also wanted to experience election night from a different perspective—watching the votes be tabulated.

So, after the voting precincts closed at 7 p.m., Woodruff headed over to one of the two precincts in town and watched the volunteers tabulate the votes. At that specific precinct, it was reported he was up in votes by a margin of about 50.

However, he still had to wait for the other precinct in town to report and for the absentee ballots to be counted. But by 11 p.m. he knew for sure that he was unofficially elected to the school board. 

And while it’s all still sinking in, Woodruff said he is ready to get to work and push the policies he campaigned on.

He’s hoping that as a fresh face and recent Carlisle graduate himself, he will be able to offer a unique perspective on the board.

“I hope that this inspires other young people to get more involved, more active and push for change in their community,” Woodruff said.

Also serving as vice speaker for Student Government and through being a full-time student, Woodruff’s time will be stretched thin. He estimates he’ll have to spend an average of 20 hours per month serving in his position on the board through meetings and biweekly office hours.

But above all, Woodruff is thankful for the flooding support he received from friends, family and the community.

“The thing that struck me throughout this whole thing was how much support I was receiving from such a young age,” Woodruff said. “With the community entrusting you with this is an awesome responsibility.

“I can’t wait to get started.”