Published September 3, 2015
Hadar Borden has always been the voice.
She was the voice for her family, a family of six who emigrated from Israel when she was a child, often translating conversations between Hebrew and English for her parents at doctor appointments and teacher conferences.
As director of the UB Academies, she is the voice for her students, encouraging them to pursue their passions and become active members of the campus and local communities.
And now, Borden aspires to become the voice for residents of Amherst, a town she has called home for nearly 20 years since her time as a UB undergraduate.
Borden is one of three Democratic candidates for Amherst Town Board — two of the five seats are vacant — her first campaign for public office.
“I realized over the last few years that in order to impact sustained change, you have to be more than a voice; it has to happen through policy,” says Borden. “I want to make sure the residents are heard and that the decisions made are beneficial and sustainable for all families.”
Although Borden is running as an independent Democrat, she has earned the endorsement of the Working Families Party, Women Taking Action in Politics (TAP) Fund, Western New York Area Labor Federation and the Western New York Council of the Communication Workers of America.
For her petition to run for office, she collected more than 850 signatures from residents, several hundred more than the needed 500 signatures.
Running a true grass-roots campaign, Borden has rallied a small army of friends, UB alumni and students, and family members, including her 11- and 9-year old sons, to help with her campaign, assisting with everything from delivering lawn signs to going door-to-door to raise awareness.
Borden’s campaign centers on ensuring the long-term effects of development in the town are evaluated, such as the effect of a project/decision on traffic patterns and safety. She also plans to address the needs and concerns of young families and seniors who desire to age in place within their homes.
“Running for office isn’t something that I aspired to do. This is truly an evolution of my involvement in the community,” says Borden, who is involved in the Junior League of Buffalo and the Erie County Commission for the Status of Women. “I attribute a lot of my awareness of issues impacting Western New York to my role here at the university.”
In leading the UB Academies, Borden pushes her students to not only became engaged in their communities, but to understand how the communities are impacted by such matters as sustainability, entrepreneurship and global diversity.
By running for local office, Borden hopes to become a role model for her students.
“Oftentimes, politicians are like celebrities: You know of the person but you can’t touch them,” says Borden. “For students to be able to say, ‘I know that person; I just saw her in the hall or attended a program with her,’ it makes the person real and allows them to think, ‘why not me?’
“I want to set an example for my students and my friends as well, that you don’t have to wait until you’ve achieved a certain level in your career or until you’re children are out of school to be a leader in your community,” she says. “You can participate now. We all have something to contribute.”
Borden, who also believes the exposure to politics will benefit her sons, hopes to inspire more women to enter politics.
Women represent less than 30 percent of the nation’s elected officials and they need to be asked an average of seven times before they consider pursuing office, according to the American Association of University Women.
That disparity led Borden to work with Academies student Minahil Khan in February to host UB’s first “Elect Her,” a day-long program that encourages and trains college women for student government and future political office.
“It’s not just that we need more women in office; we need more women like Hadar who are dedicated to the lives of those around them,” says Khan, president of the undergraduate Student Association and a senior political science and communications major.
“It’s been evident since I came to college that Hadar has been the one person who believed in me and encouraged me to believe in myself. She’s continuously motiving me and never allows me to settle for less.”
The Democratic primary between Borden, Deborah Bucki and Francina Spoth will be held Sept. 10. If nominated, Borden will run in the general election in November.
Borden holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UB in geography and international trade.