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Younger generation ready to lead

Last weekend, I attended the annual Dorchester Conference in Seaside. It’s a statewide gathering of Republicans from throughout Oregon, and I usually make it out every year if I can manage it.

Saturday night’s Founders Speech was given by Rep. John Davis, R-Wilsonville. What sets John apart from many elected officials is the fact that he is 29 years old.

At the conference, I got to spend time with John and many of the other leaders I’ve gotten to know in my years as a reporter and a political operative. They include Rep. Wally Hicks, R-Grants Pass, Creswell City Councilor Jacob Daniels and others.

One of the speakers at last year’s conference was U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Illinois. Schock has the unique distinction of being the first member of Congress born in the 1980s.

All of the officials I just mentioned have a few things in common. Mostly, they are members of my generation who have stepped into leadership roles traditionally served by people twice their age.

I first noticed this trend in 2010, when I was still reporting in Southern Oregon. That was the year when Hicks and my friend Simon Hare were both elected in Josephine County.

My family moved from Grants Pass to Vancouver, Wash., days before the November 2010 general election. I immediately realized that the same pattern I saw in Josephine County was happening in Vancouver, as Jaime Herrera-Beutler was elected to Congress. Brandon Vick, who was 26 at the time, became chairman of the Clark County Republican Party. He is now a member of the Legislature in Washington state.

These events inspired me to begin writing a book about what I saw taking place all around me.

Over the next couple of years, I kept meeting other young people who were running for public office. They all became a part of the narrative for my book, "Transition: A New Generation of Leadership."

Our great nation faces many challenges in this post-Sept. 11 world. That event and the economic calamity of 2008 coincided with the onset of adulthood for members of my generation.

But instead of sitting around and complaining, I saw people my age and younger deciding to take action and try to be part of the solution (I turn 33 in just a few short weeks.)

After a while, I came to the realization that young people are serving at the city, county, state and federal level everywhere I’ve lived since 2006.

I recently submitted the final draft of Transition, and it is scheduled to be published July 4 by Ridenbaugh Press. My hope is that it will inspire more people like John Davis, Simon Hare, Wally Hicks, Jacob Daniels, Aaron Shock, Jaime Herrera-Beutler and Brandon Vick to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Back when I was working as a legislative aide during the 2005 session in Salem, I attended a seminar put on by a Hollywood producer. He predicted that young people would start running for office and winning, resulting in a peaceful transition of power between generations.

It was an honor being able to document this man’s predictions as they came true. Every young person I know who ran for office in 2010 won, and the same thing happened again in 2012.

Ultimately, new people with new ideas and new approaches are going to be a critical part of advancing our nation toward a more prosperous future. I hope to contribute what I can towards those efforts, and encourage other young people to do the same. These problems aren’t going to solve themselves, and active participation is the best way to address these issues positively within the context of the democratic system given to us by our forefathers.

Scott Jorgensen is the news reporter for The Estacada News.




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