CENTERVILLE Anne Looser wants her peers to become more politically aware. Jenny Orgill wants to bring heritage to her city's government. And Andrew Michael Pederson wants to tweak his city's transportation plans.
The three candidates for municipal office are running on different platforms in different cities, yet they have one thing in common: all are under 25.
"I have a friend who says voting doesn't do anything. . . . I said, 'If I run, will you vote?' and they said yes," Looser says. "If (my friends) go out and vote, it's not a losing battle."
Looser, 19, is running for mayor of Centerville.
She attended a city planning meeting at the beginning of the year as part of a requirement for a class at the University of Utah, and was surprisingly interested in the issues discussed.
"I've been to other meetings, and they were so boring," she said. "At this meeting, they were talking about things that were of value to the city."
Getting her peers to become politically active is only one of the reasons for her candidacy. She also says she wants to prove that young people are interested in civic matters, and she thinks someone from her generation would breathe new life into the city's government and provide a fresh perspective.
"I really ultimately believe there are a lot of needs that don't get met because of the views of the council members. They are of a different generation," she said. "I think there's this concept that if you're not 35 or older or something, you're not active in your community, and I want to dispel that. I don't want my generation to be seen as apathetic. I'm not."
Looser says junior high kids, for example, don't have anywhere to go in the community for recreation. She says if she is elected she would try to start an after-school program at the local junior high school, something that would help kids have somewhere to go, and a place to help them gain self-esteem. Looser also says she wants more public involvement in the local decision-making process.
"I would have more informal meetings with public officials as moderators. City residents would do the talking rather than officials," she said.
While Looser has ambitious plans for the city if she is elected, she will be up against incumbent council member Ron Russell and attorney Michael Deamer in the Oct. 2 primaries, and she's realistic about her chances.
"(The other candidates) have budgets, and I have no budget, but I'm not going to let that get in the way of me educating people. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try," she said.
Looser is majoring in political science at the University of Utah. She plans to attend law school and says she would like to be a mayor or senator someday. Her dream job: Supreme Court justice.
Although Looser's run for mayor at a young age is unique, it's not unheard of in Utah.
Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey was elected when he was 29. In 1997, 21-year-old Brigham Young University student Joseph Andersen was elected to the Orem City Council. In 1998, 19-year-old Adam Bass was appointed to fill a vacant seat on the Riverton City Council. This year, Bass is running for mayor.
In Draper, 24-year-old Jenny Orgill says she is the youngest person to ever run for office in the city. Orgill, who runs a day care in her family's home, did not go to college but she says she has been getting quite an education by learning the political process.
Orgill has been involved in the fight to retain the city's old logo, gathering 1,300 signatures to put that issue on the ballot. Since declaring her candidacy, she has spent time reading up on the city and visiting with city workers, including those in the police, sewer and fire departments.
"I'm loving it," she said. "If I don't win, it's a life-learning experience."
Orgill says she has a lot to offer city government as someone with "Draper heritage." Her great-great-great-grandfather was among the first group of people sent to the area by Brigham Young, and the city has honored him and his wife with a statue in the city park.
Orgill is going up against seven other council candidates for two open seats, but she is confident.
"I know I have a great chance. My name's out there because of the logo, and of the eight candidates, only three of us attend council meetings," she said. "I'm fresh, new, young blood. I'm a go-getter."
Pederson, 19, is running for mayor of West Jordan with his friend Adam Kyle Kay, 18, aiming for a seat on the City Council as Pederson's running mate.
"The people I have talked to have loved the idea," Pederson said. A lot of his friends have also said they will register to vote now that there are people who are their own age and represent their ideas on the ballot. He's facing incumbent mayor Donna Evans, Bryan Holladay, Steven Mascaro and Richard Moore.
If elected, Pederson says he would want to change the proposed location for a TRAX stop from the south end of a city park to an area with businesses.
Though his running mate Kay has lofty goals of someday being president of the United States, he knows he first has to take small political steps.
"I'm just out there for the campaign experience," he said.
Godfrey, who was elected as mayor of a city of about 77,000 residents when he was 29, says many of this year's young candidates have asked him for advice.
Godfrey says for the most part, his relative youth has been a positive factor in his service. Ogden residents wanted change, he says, and that is what they got. Occasionally he has heard that people have pinned mistakes on his age, and he advises young candidates they need to prepare themselves for that.
With people around the country accusing younger generations of apathy toward politics and the community, Godfrey applauds young people who are getting involved.
However, he tells them there is no "silver bullet" to winning an election at a young age. The key to being successful is to run for office for the right reasons."If people are running because they want to serve the community, I think that's great," he said. "If they are trying to move up the political ladder . . . that isn't the right reason."
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