Walking pals, birthday buddies and friends.
These are a few words that describe the supportive and caring friendship between Ruby Faye Woolridge and Stefan Powdrill.
Woolridge, 72, is the newly elected Arlington City Council District 6 member and Powdrill, 18, is the Sam Houston High School senior who volunteered with and became integral to her campaign.
Their friendship started as Powdrill helped more and more with the campaign. After countless block walks, events and campaigning side-by-side, the two became inseparable.
“I realized that every single morning and every single day, I’m with a 72-year-old woman — who does this — and I’m 18 years old. Who does this?” he said with a laugh. “But I don’t mind, because she’s smart; she has a really energetic spirit.”
Woolridge defeated council candidate John Hibbs in the Nov. 3 election for the seat. She said Powdrill was vital to her campaign and the missing piece she and her team needed.
“He started being my [public relations] guy,” Woolridge said with a laugh. “It was just like, some kind of special thing that I would think of things and he could do them.”
She first heard about Powdrill back in September, when her campaign manger met him while he was volunteering for Lydia Bean, a Democrat who lost a Tarrant County Texas House district race to incumbent Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth.
After researching Woolridge, Powdrill asked if he could join her on her next block walking event. They canvassed together before having lunch and talking politics and the campaign.
Powdrill said he was with Woolridge all the time after that, spending long days and nights canvassing and helping run her social media accounts. He would even use his first period of school, an off period, to campaign with Woolridge and then come back to school for the rest of the day.
The duo had an instant connection, Woolridge said. With birthdays just a few days apart, they even dubbed themselves “birthday buddies.” The only thing the two didn’t agree on was each other’s music preference, they said, but Powdrill would still dance to her favorites.
Powdrill said he connected with Woolridge because she was a regular person. Her transparency about her past and what she wanted to accomplish is something not shown in this age of polarizing politics, he said. Talking to her was just like talking to a friend, he added.
After the two had been working together for awhile, Woolridge said he started to depend on Powdrill and wanted to hear his opinions. They talked about what was important to young voters, and he helped her secure an interview on Arlington Urban Media and Entertainment.
Powdrill had previously been involved as an activist, even helping organize protests in Arlington in the wake of George Floyd’s death. He was able to vote in his first election this November.
When he got to Woolridge’s name on the ballot, he said he took a moment to reflect on what he had done for her campaign. He then took a deep breath, clicked on her name and finished his ballot.
Powdrill couldn’t wait to tell her that he cast his vote for her, and Woolridge said she was honored to receive his vote.
From the first block walk to the election victory, Woolridge said Powdrill grew from a casual canvassing participant to a confidant. She could discuss the campaign with him and he would be there to help with whatever was needed.
A lot has happened in the two months they have known each other, Woolridge said. Even with the election over, they said they aim to stay in touch and keep working for a better Arlington.
“The campaign doesn’t end our relationship,” she said. “It’s just a completion of a part of the journey. We still have other things to do.”