Amanda Folendorf was born and grew up in the small California town of Angels Camp, about two hours southeast of Sacramento. The community, which sprung up during the Gold Rush, boasts nearly 4,000 residents. For Folendorf’s family, caring for those residents has been a legacy.

Amanda Folendorf, 31, is the newly appointed mayor of Angels Camp, California. Photo courtesy of Amanda Folendorf.

“I have a family history of involvement in Angels Camp with civil services,” she said. “I grew up watching many of my family members appointed, elected and volunteering in my community. You could say I was born into this.”

Folendorf, 31, just became the city’s youngest-ever mayor, and the country’s very first deaf female mayor. She was appointed by the Angels Camp city council earlier this year, after having served on the council herself since she was 27.

One of her political goals is to empower other young people to run for office, too.

“During college, I interned with multiple elected offices in Sacramento, Congressman Dan Lungren, Senator Tom Harman and (the) Senate Republican Caucus,” she said. “In 2014, I decided to run for election.

“I always wanted to do this, there was no doubt. I guess you could say the stars aligned and there were more reasons to follow through than not. I threw my name into the hat and was elected.”

She didn’t realize that fulfilling her dream of leading her lifelong community would be an historic moment for the United States.

“It’s an honor to be the ‘first’ at something,” she said. “My goal was to give back and pave the way to show my community that our generation needs to be proactive in planning for its future. (I) had no idea that by doing this (I) would be breaking the glass ceiling across the nation.”

Being a trailblazer is “still a role I am learning to navigate,” Folendorf said. “My vision is that this platform can be used as a catalyst to start a national conversation of removing stigmas and start a positive platform of supporting anyone that wants to run for office, especially young females and individuals with various abilities.”

We asked Folendorf to share her vision for making politics more accessible to everyone, regardless of age, gender or ability.

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