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"Young guns take politics by storm"

posted Apr 15, 2012, 12:11 PM by Nick Camlin   [ updated Oct 14, 2015, 8:46 PM ]
[An editorial from Sunday, April 7, 2012, Argus/Dispatch]

"Young guns take politics by storm"

By Roger Ruthhart,

Regardless of which party you are affiliated with (if any), I think there is one thing we can all get excited about from the last election.

The great influx of younger candidates.

There are several factors to which we can attribute the movement: the rebirth of the Republican Party in Rock Island County; the death of John Gianulis, thus relaxing a stranglehold on who can run; the retirement of a number of long-time county officeholders.

Regardless, the turnout of candidates under age 40 was pretty impressive and good news for voters and taxpayers in the future.

Perhaps we can call it "The Camlin Effect." It wasn't that long ago when many were surprised when 21 year-old Nick Camlin ran unsuccessfully for township clerk in 2009. Then came an appointment to an open county board seat in July 2010, followed by successful primary and general election campaigns.

Ironically, Mr. Camlin, now 24, will face Republican Bill Long, a retiree, in District 15 in a November race with one of the largest age spreads in recent history.

Not all of the fresh faces were successful in the primary, but hopefully they will all stick with it just the same. Several, I think, bit off a pretty big chunk of politics in their first run for political office -- most notably Greg Aguilar, 31, who was defeated in the three-way Democratic race for Congress in the 17th District, and Jonathan Wallace, 21, who sought unsuccessfully to challenge State Rep. Pat Verschoore in November.

Rep. Verschoore, 68, who is probably chasing his final term in Springfield, will face another young gun, Neil Anderson, 29, from Rock Island. Mike Smiddy, 38, will challenge State Rep. Rich Morthland.

Tony Holland, 23, who won the GOP primary for county recorder, and Tracy Nesseler, 40, who lost the battle for the same office among the Democrats, both accounted themselves well in their first big campaign.

In the short time she has been in office, Tammy Muerhoff, 38, the regional superintendent of schools, has also accounted herself well. She is up for election in November too.

The ballot slots most populated by the young gun movement were for county board. I think precinct committeemen, township offices and county board seats provide a good launching pad for political wannabes to get experience and exposure to the process and the rigors of campaigning.

As mentioned, Mr. Camlin will be up for election this fall as will be newcomers Mia Mayberry, Marty Matherly Jr., Kevin Goveia and probably some others I've missed. Kathleen Mesich, 35, of Coal Valley, won a spot on the November ballot in District 22 as did Scott Terry, 26, in District 21. While not successful, Clark Ramser, 25, still turned in a good fight.

Of course just because they are young doesn't make them the best candidate, or even electable, but you have to start somewhere. For the democratic process to thrive, we need to keep infusing it with new blood -- and sometimes that needs to be young blood, too.