‘05 grad 1st Republican in his county to win office

By Brian Hancock

Students do all sorts of things with their free time, whether it’s playing sports, joining clubs or picking up a job.

Ryan Quarles, a 2005 graduate who was recently elected state representative for the 62nd District of Kentucky’s General Assembly, took more classes.

At 27, he is the first-ever Republican to win office in the history of Scott County.

Quarles beat seven-term incumbent Charlie Hoffman with 51 percent of the popular vote.

The victory was a culmination of many years of hard work for Quarles.

Raised on a Kentucky tobacco farm, Quarles was given a choice: either work on the farm or do well in school.

“It was an easy decision for me,” he said. “School was a priority from early on.”

When Quarles arrived at UK in 2002, he said he realized the school had “endless possibilities.” In no more than four years, Quarles completed three undergraduate degrees in agriculture economics, public service and leadership, and political science, graduated summa cum laude with honors and attained two masters degrees in economics and diplomacy.

To do this, Quarles took up to 27 credit hours a semester and managed to stay on the Dean’s List each term.

In 2008, Quarles received the Zuckerman Fellowship, granting him a full ride to Harvard University, where he received a masters in higher education.

He recently graduated from the UK College of Law, as well.

“I have to credit my success to my advisers — especially Lori Garkovich,” Quarles said. “She was instrumental in helping me to win the Truman Scholarship.”

The Truman Scholarship is given each year to 65 college juniors nationwide. Quarles was awarded $30,000 to pursue graduate work in the area of public service.

Since finishing school, Quarles maintained his work ethic.

“While I was at Harvard and UK Law School, I started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life,” he said. “I decided I wanted to give back to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, which had already given me so much.”

Having already served two consecutive terms as a council member on the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, Quarles decided to run for state representative a little more than a year ago.

Though he had worked with many campaigns in years past, he said running his own was unlike anything he’d ever experienced.

“There’s nothing like actually having your name on the ballot and experiencing the pure exhaustion from running your own campaign,” he said.

Quarles lost 15 pounds during his campaign.

“I’m just now getting caught up on sleep, I think,” he said.

All his efforts proved worthwhile, though, as he pulled off an upset by just more than 300 votes — a 2.3 percent margin of victory.

“I was just happy that people didn’t hold my age against me,” Quarles said. “In many cases, voters who wanted change thought [my age] was an asset.”

Quarles will take office in January. He hopes to “reform how our government works, making it more transparent and more accountable.”

Quarles said he wants to make all government expenditures available to the public by putting them online.

As for his agenda, Quarles said he would like to work towards better education in the Commonwealth.

“I hope to develop a niche in education reform in Kentucky,” he said.

Quarles encourages student input regarding the issue.

“I’m one of you guys still. I want to hear from you, the students,” he said.

For more information, students can visit, (http://ryanquarles.com/Home_Page.html).