Stonecrest candidate pushes political youth movement

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Mary-Pat Hector speaks to a potential voter. (Photo from Facebook)

Ask anyone whose hair has turned all-gray well before its time and they will tell you “age doesn’t matter.”

They are wrong. At least when it comes to trying to beat your nephews at basketball.

Or elections.

The Constitution says the president has to be at least 35. The last time we voted, the only two presidential candidates with a chance to win were eligible for Medicare.

Our president is the oldest person elected to the office in U.S. history. His opponent would have been the second oldest, after Ronald Reagan. Her opponent in the Democratic primary was older than both of them.

The gaggle of retired generals running around the White House might be considered a youth movement.

Fortunately, if you’re young and want to make a difference you can do more than go to protests and complain about things on Facebook.

You can run for office.

Mary-Pat Hector, a teen candidate for city council of Stonecrest, a new city in DeKalb County, is the youngest woman to run for office in Georgia history.

One of her political opponents, George Turner Jr., filed a complaint challenging Hector’s eligibility to run but lost.

“The [county election] board’s decision is a testament to the inclusion of the next generation’s participation in the democratic process,” said the 19-year-old Spelman College student.

When I was 19, planning for the future meant figuring out how to get to Panama City during Spring Break.

Hector is planning how to defeat four opponents in the March 21 election for Stonecrest’s Fourth District seat. Her opponents include Geraldine Champion, Jesse “Jay” Cunningham, Jonathan “JP” Phillips and the aforementioned Turner.

Thanks to the eligibility challenge, Hector says she is “about three weeks behind” her opponents, but feels her team of 50 volunteers is helping gain ground fast.

She said many people she’s spoken to don’t know they live in the new city, but most seem concerned with fighting crime and corruption.

Hector said she’d also work to support local businesses, prioritize city parks and promote smart growth. She’d like to recruit so-called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) businesses to the area to work with local schools and help prepare students to “compete globally.”

Hector wouldn’t guess her chances of winning, but she said she feels like a winner already because her campaign is inspiring other young people to get involved in politics.

The worst part of campaigning? She said older people in the community have suggested she “wait her turn.”

“That’s sad,” she said. “If you are old enough to fight for your country you are old enough to fight for your community.”

“I pay taxes too. I drive over the same pothole they drive over.”

At 19, you figure Hector would have a pretty solid social media game plan.

At the tender age of 15 she received a $50,000 grant to teach peacemaking skills to young people and had 10,000 followers.

Hector said “Everyone is shining a light on Stonecrest and I am excited” but it’s crucial to “set a foundation for our new city, make sure the right city manager is hired. Those first decisions will set a course for the city.”

I’m not in the business of telling people how to vote, but I’m all for giving young people a shot at running things. As I’m typing this, the FBI is raiding the office of a fully-grown adult at Atlanta City Hall.

If it gets any worse I may suggest you vote for a toddler. After all, there’s only so much cash that can be stuffed in a diaper.


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