Roberts takes the lead as JSA’s new New England Vice Mayor


John Vassiliou

Roberts, 3rd from right, at the annual spirit rally.

John Vassiliou, Editor

The Junior State of America’s New England Region has chosen its new Vice Mayor from Westford Academy’s own chapter. Junior Zachary Roberts was recently elected to serve the position under Regional Mayor senior Rebecca Eneyni from Wellesley High School.

JSA is broken up into ten “regions” with the northeast state being the fourth largest of them all, consisting of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine.

Each region has a mayor and a vice mayor, and the state has one governor and lieutenant governor. We all work together, we are all in charge of something ourselves. The mayor and I […] we work together to make sure that we as a region are on the same page as the state and make sure that everyone else knows what we are up to,” Roberts said.

During the previous year, Roberts was the regional Director of Debate. He was responsible for creating debate topics, describing their controversies, and summarizing them after the fact. 

Basically, all of these points are argued and debated by many people from around the region, which was very satisfying to see,” Roberts said.

However, with a new position comes new responsibilities.

This year I have to take care of making sure that conventions are planned clearly, that we have a location prepped, that the agenda is clearly written out and handed out to every single member and chapter in the region. [To make] sure that we get an activism block, and activism ideas around the region, and that we get keynote speakers,” Roberts said.

The election itself was close. Roberts narrowly defeated his competitor, senior Ishaan Kaushal from Prospect Hill Academy, in an election which had to be recounted three times. 

“[Zach] didn’t ever display animosity towards [his opponent], in fact, I always told him that he and Ishaan would be such good friends and they were. That’s why Ishaan’s on cabinet, that’s why he’s Director of Debate, because Ishaan works hard and Zach and him work well together.” Roberts’s Campaign Manager, Kavya Desikan, said.  ” […] Zach had experience which Ishaan only had at a chapter level. […] At the end of the day, it was Zach’s experience which put him over the edge,” Desikan Said. 

Desikan helped Roberts with his campaign, for the most part forming a duo, and stood in for him at Spring State while he was out due to a rock climbing injury.

“From that point, I did his opening speech, his campaign debate, I did his closing speech, and then I also gave his thank you speech following the election. For the longest time it was us working cohesively to create this platform,” Desikan said.

Robert’s cabinet assists him in managing social media, keeping others up to date about events and important information, and communicating at a chapter level. Club adviser Kimberly Sears has nothing but praise to offer to the team for their determination.

“It was Zach and the members in his chapter who were helping him run his campaign. I was really just on the sidelines supporting him of course but he took the initiative to do everything that had to be done and was helped along the way by our club members,” Sears said.

One of Zach’s cabinet members, WA junior Audrija Sarkar, was one of the first people to be added to his newly formed cabinet.

“Cabinet is a big part of what JSA is, it’s not just that you go to conventions that are organized by some adults that make them. It is the students who make these conventions happen. The cabinet is what makes JSA work and it’s another aspect to JSA because you may see a combative nature in debates, but having people who work together to make these things work is really important,” Sarkar said.

Desikan credited Roberts with being able to identify and address the issues from the previous year, allowing him to achieve his victory over Kaushal.

“Zach had a lot of hands-on opportunity with that, plus with him being on cabinet he had seen how things in the region were not necessarily going as well as they could have. Last year was not a remarkable year by any means for the New England Region. We had two conventions fall through. The only convention we really had was on a PSAT day so that attendance was low, and as a Director of Debate and cabinet member, Zach saw that problem, knew he wanted to fix it, so he put himself into position to run,” Desikan said.

Turnout had been an issue noted by various members of JSA, as Sarkar can attest to. However, the most recent events have appeared to be successes.

“I wasn’t on cabinet last year so I can’t specifically say what the difference between the two years are but I think that our first convention has been a success. It happened earlier this month and I’m looking forward to having more conferences organized,” Sarkar said.

In the end, both Desikan and Sarkar agree that Roberts won through perseverance, hard work, and charisma. They all gave Roberts support, collaborated with him to achieve a goal, and stepped up to the task when help was needed. Sears summed up the clubs feelings towards Roberts in her final words.

“I will say that there’s no better person for the job that Zach was elected to, he’s a great kid and he really deserves that office,” Sears said.

*Disclaimer: Kavya Desikan is an editor on the WA Ghostwriter.