There were three open seats on my home town’s city council and four candidates. Three were incumbents and one was twenty-two years old. (Of the other three, two are in their sixties and one in their fifties, I believe.) The 22-year-old didn’t win.
I voted for him though, because he was young and I want to encourage young people to get into politics. I think the city council of a small town is a good place to start in order to learn how politics really work — and more importantly, how governance works, or at least how it should. At twenty-two, with no kids, Vaughn Higginbotham would not be a great candidate for a school board, although that’s another good place to learn about politics and governance.
If Vaughn wants to take advice from an “old,” I’ll be happy to share a few things.
I knew three things about Higginbotham; he had a lot of signs, especially in the Swain’s Woods community; he was twenty-two and he has an iPhone repair business (which sounds like something Apple would want to stop). I did vote for him but I wish I had known a little more. I had definite opinions formed already about two of the candidates from watching them in action, but when I went to the traditional places to find info about Higginbotham, I didn’t find much. He might have had a vibrant Instagram account and a lively Twitter discussion going, but his Facebook page had photos of the ballot with his name on it, some of his yard signs and a video of him going to town hall to turn in his candidate papers. When I used his Facebook page to ask him questions, I never got a response.
Some advice would be:
–Campaign to the olds as well as your own generation and age group. You can find a lot of us on Facebook. Use older-fashioned venues like the local weekly paper. Give them an op-ed piece. Consider a “Coffee with the Candidate” event at local coffee houses.
–Knock on doors. He might have done this elsewhere in town, but no one in my neighborhood had seen him. I know several other candidates came by the house. Years ago, in a tight County Supervisor race, I saw both candidates on my doorstep at least twice. It actually works.
I would say, “Develop a platform and have some position statements,” but that would be holding this candidate to a different standard than the three others. They all have policy statements (and so did Higginbotham); “We need sustainable jobs,” and/ or “We need to protect the environment” and “We have to do something about traffic.” Those were Higginbotham’s policies too. He did add something about thinking that since young people were going to inherit the town, they should have a say in governing it.
The fact is, while I feel quite comfortable with the old, white, leftish-leaning incumbents, all of whom retained their seats, it’s because I am one of them. They are not necessarily in touch with the times. They do not necessarily understand the needs of the town, or have an appropriate vision of the town’s future, and it’s hard to know that because there really isn’t anyone on the council who questions, or checks, their reality. That, however, is an idea for another post.
Another thing Higginbotham could do if he is serious about a career in politics is spend the next two years volunteering or taking an internship, so that he learns more about the process of governing a small town, and how involved it is. And so he makes some connections; he’s known.
And I hope he runs again.