Younger Candidates May Need to Try Again
Making it through the primary to the general election was a mountain too high to climb for some of the younger candidates on Tuesday's ballot, especially in the race for Erie City Council, where democrats chose Mel Witherspoon, Ed Brzezinski and Michael Keys to face republican Shawn Lyons in the fall.
If you vote regularly you may notice many of those who vote time and time again are from middle aged to senior citizens. For them voting is a habit.
According to The Atlantic, young adults 18 to 29 have had the worst turnout of any age group in every election since the U.S. Census Bureau began keeping track of voter-age data.
While younger voters are becoming more engaged in presidential election years the data shows that they have a long way to go in showing up in big numbers in municipal elections.
Chuck Nelson, a young pastor who ran unsuccessfully for city council in the primary says having more young voters turn out may have helped his campaign. He said some of the other young candidates worked to register more young voters, but he doesn't believe it paid off.
Nelson was also frustrated by his ballot position among a large field candidates.
While disappointed in his showing, he's not looking for someone or something to blame. He still believes he has ideas to improve Erie and says he plans to keep trying. "It just means I need to spend more years getting my name out there if I would like to hold office," Nelson said, "and my goal isn't necessarily to hold office, my goal is to help the city so if I just keep doing that maybe holding office will still be in my future."
Jim Wertz party chair of Erie Dems says it takes that kind of tenacity. Wertz was pleased with the number of young candidates seeking office in the 2019 primary. He called getting on the primary ballot a good first step, win or lose, and said if young candidates really want to prevail, they have to earn voter awareness and trust. "But again it goes back to that question how well do they know them, trust them to take the reins, so again it's about getting your name out there and getting them more comfortable voting for you in the next cycle," Wertz said.