Friday, November 11, 2005

Now That's Initiative!

Here in California you had better be the child of a movie star or politician if you want to get noticed.
High School Kid by Day, Mr. Mayor by Night - Los Angeles Times: "In late September, days after turning 18 and registering to vote, Mike walked into the city clerk's office and filed his intention to run for mayor as a write-in candidate in this southcentral Michigan town.

His advertising budget was modest — the $700 he had saved from his summer job selling cotton candy and candied apples at local county fairs. But it was enough to pay for hundreds of business cards and 50 lawn signs.

In the three weeks before the election, Mike got classmates to help him organize public meetings and canvass neighborhoods.

'Each day after school, he would pick an area and go door to door, telling people who he was and that he was running for mayor,' said Lauren Beck, 17. 'He'd talk about why he should be mayor, and had a sample of the ballot so he could show people where they had to write in his name.'

At first, residents thought Mike was doing this as a joke — or as a way to bolster his college application by adding mayoral candidate to his list of after-school activities, along with being the announcer for the high school soccer team.

Some people laughed. Others shut the door in his face. But then the mood around town shifted.

'A lot of people seemed impressed that he was working so hard,' said Brandon Thomas, 17, who has known Mike since elementary school.

The young candidate spoke at the Kiwanis Club, a record shop and the local firehouse. Hillsdale's three-man department was sold: Convinced that the teen would help them fill a firefighter job vacant for two years, they endorsed him.

Mike even brought in stacks of voter registration cards to the school cafeteria and persuaded students who were 18 to vote, the principal said.

Lorri Sessions and her 46-year-old husband, Scott, a medical technician, said their son long had been interested in politics.

'He would watch the town City Council meetings on TV every week,' Lorri said. 'He'd try to get us to join him. He found the whole process fascinating."

A few years ago, after the automotive manufacturing plant that employed Scott left town, Lorri said, her son began talking about running for office."
$700 wow. Good budget management, able to persuade his peers to help, convinced an older generation he had the best interests of the town in mind, good organizational skills and a good work ethic. What was not to like.

And taught people how to vote. Good stuff.

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