Looking through old photos recently, I found an envelope with a November 1970 Milwaukee postmark.
I don’t know what happened to the letter I had sent from Marquette University to my family in Erie, but I had written on the back of the envelope: “My candidate won!”
Those words took me back to the fall of 1970, in my sophomore year, when I campaigned in southeastern Wisconsin for Les Aspin, running for the 1st Congressional District as part of the Movement for a New Congress.
At age 19, I couldn’t vote; that privilege wouldn’t come until July 1, 1971, when the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.
I had volunteered for the Movement for a New Congress because I wanted to be part of a peaceful process to end the Vietnam War.
By going door to door, speaking up for a candidate I believed in, I learned how to take political science lessons from the classroom into the real world.
I thought about my youthful leap into local politics during Mercyhurst University’s mayoral forum, “Candidates Respond to Voices of Faith,” on March 27. I was tickled to see students not only in the audience but also helping to run the program.
The forum made me think about why it’s important for young people to vote in the Municipal Primary on Tuesday, May 16.
As a college student in Erie, you have a stake in making sure our city, including the Mercyhurst neighborhood, is safe, blight-free and vibrant. I am running for City Council on a slate with Kevin Otteni and John Reitinger; we have pledged to move Erie forward by supporting “Erie Refocused,” the city’s comprehensive plan to remove blight and restore neighborhoods.
To help in that task, we need your “brain gain” after you graduate. Part of that gain will come through Mercyhurst’s leadership in the new Innovation District in downtown Erie.
I was delighted to read “Ambassadors of Service” in the March 22 Merciad, about students helping with neighborhood rehab projects in Raleigh and Detroit.
I know Mercyhurst contributes in many ways now to make Erie a better place. From that experience, maybe you will suggest new ways to improve Erie’s neighborhoods.
Please vote on May 16. You likely won’t send a letter by snail mail, but perhaps you will text, Snap, post on Facebook or send an Instagram photo with this message: “My candidates won!”