Group Launches Plan To Recruit Millennial Candidates

By John Celock

WASHINGTON – Citing a need to end political dysfunction, a new group has launched an initiative to recruit millennials to seek elective office.

Action for America announced Tuesday morning at a National Press Club Newsmakers program here that they were planning a bipartisan effort to recruit 100 members of the millennial generation to seek state and local office in the coming election. The initiative includes the group seeking to unite candidates behind a 10-point program of new ideas for the United States.

“America needs a vibrant political movement for the 21st Century,” Laquan Austion, CEO of Action for America, said Tuesday morning. “Not one that tells people to wait in line.”

Austion said that millennials have grown up with watching “political dysfunction” in Washington and across all levels of government. He said that both parties have been divisive and prone to spreading dysfunction in the political arena.

Austion noted that millennials and “millions of Americans” want the political arena to change and look for a new model of how government works. He compared the current political environment to two popular television shows.

“It has been a bad episode of House of Cards meets Scandal,” Austion said. “While it makes for great television it does not do much for governing.”

Austion was joined during the program – which was billed as a millennials in elective office – event by Indian Head, Md. Mayor Brandon Paulin, who was 19 when he was elected last year. Paulin is the youngest mayor in Maryland history.

Paulin, who said he supports the Action for America initiative, talked about how wanting to focus on economic development in his community led him to seek the mayor’s office. He noted that he felt things had become “stagnant in my community” and that he wanted to address moving Indian Head forward particularly in the area of economic development.

Paulin, who started attending Town Council meetings at the age of 10, said that some had questioned if he could win as a 19-year-old.

“I had tons of people telling me it couldn’t be done but I did it,” Paulin said. “Hopefully I changed a lot of minds in my community.”

Paulin noted that he has worked to get other young adults involved in town government, including appointing high school students to town boards. He highlighted his work on economic development.

“I have taken the bull by the horns in terms of economic development,” he said. “We have a balanced budget.”

Austion said that his group wants to bring change to the political arena, similar to how Uber and AirBnB has changed their industries. He said that this would include creating an infrastructure to help millennials run and bringing more millennials into the process.

“Campaigns have been running the same way for hundreds of years. As a result of it people are unable to step up. We think that is crazy,” he said. “Our generation – one of the most underrepresented groups in this country – needs to be able to step up. We want to create a community.”

Paulin noted that millennials are capable of getting elected to public office and serving well in office.

“Whoever said it can’t be done, didn’t know,” he said.

Editor’s Note: John Celock is a member of the National Press Club Newsmakers Committee and organized the event.