Sophomore Chelsea Valcourt balances her college workload while running for a seat in Monroe Township's Ward 4 Town Council. - Photo courtesy of Chelsea Valcourt; Mike Hickman Photography

Life as a college student can get very hectic. While dealing with a heavy workload that keeps building, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like to do other activities on top of an already busy schedule.

Tell that to Chelsea Valcourt, a sophomore journalism and radio, TV and film (RTF) dual major at Rowan. In addition to being a college student, Valcourt is also running for Monroe Township’s Republican Ward 4 town council seat. 

Born in Washington Township and living in Monroe Township her entire life, Valcourt originally wanted to run for Monroe Township’s Board of Education. However, when she found out that the Republican Party needed someone to run for Ward 4 she ran for town council instead.

“It’s mostly just because I know I can listen to the people, and I feel like a lot of the people that are in [the town council] now are not doing that,” Valcourt said.

So what made Valcourt run for town council in Monroe Township?

“I really love Monroe Township,” Valcourt said. “The teachers have always been really supportive. When I spoke at board of education meetings, the residents, they always had my back.”

Valcourt was disheartened to hear high school students say that they can’t wait to leave Monroe Township, as she has always believed that it is a very good place to live.

“It just felt like the concerns of the people were just being ignored again and again and it felt like maybe it was time to stop,” she said.

Valcourt came to Rowan after transferring from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Prior to college, she attended Williamstown High School and was very involved. She was secretary of the drama program, a student representative on the board of education and was involved in student government as secretary during her sophomore year. In addition, she attended the New Jersey Girls State, where girls go to a college campus and sign a petition to run for office in a mock government setting for a week.

To add to her involvement, Valcourt went to Monroe Township’s Board of Education about various issues that dealt with their policy on bullying, teachers’ contracts and other similar affairs. She also attended New Jersey State Senator Fred H. Madden’s government education program.

Every day is different for Valcourt as she runs the social media accounts for the council, who have campaign meetings every two weeks to discuss topics of importance. She plans “Meet the Candidates” nights on days when she doesn’t have class. 

“I mean it is really challenging but it is something that I believe… we really need good people in office,” Valcourt said. “It’s kind of like a no-brainer, ‘I’ll figure it out’ kind of thing.”

It can get a little hectic for Valcourt to balance both her council duties and her schoolwork. For example, she unexpectedly had to attend a council meeting on Monday and speak out for someone who had come to her with problems. However, she says that the workload is a give-or-take situation.

“Sometimes I spend more time with the politics and sometimes I spend more time at school, and I kind of have to catch up,” Valcourt said. “I plan my classes so I don’t have classes on Friday, so that’s kind of like the day where I balance out the work.”

With everything on her plate, she tries to find time to have a social life. She does activities with her roommates, attends trivia and other events at the Chamberlain Student Center and reserves her weekends for her social life, since the regular week is too busy for her. She does make sure to get coffee twice a week with her best friend.

“I’m kind of carving out those times so it’s not so overwhelming for me to be doing it all,” Valcourt said.

She believes that Monroe Township has a lot of money, people and space and has seen a lot of incredible businesses thrive in there. One of her main goals if she were to win a seat on the town council is to bring a lot of those businesses into Monroe Township to fill empty strip malls and spaces so people don’t feel as compelled to leave.

“I really love that community feel that we get at these festivals and so I want to do more community programs,” Valcourt said. “Specifically with children and teenagers, to kind of get them involved with each other and the town, and hopefully to alleviate some of the drug problems that our town has by giving them something to do after school and keeping them out of trouble.”

Her final goal that she would love to achieve is getting the public portion of meetings listed in the meeting minutes.

“If I were to go to a board meeting and say ‘I care about this concern, could you please investigate it?’ [I would want to] have that written so the officials could be held accountable for it,” Valcourt said.

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