Friday, October 29, 2010

ageism in prince george's county

It's rare that young people are interested in politics and motivated enough to run for public office. Yet David Murray and Edward Burroughs, two college freshmen in Prince George's County who went to public school there, are running for School Board, says the Post:

Steven Morris, a Fort Washington resident and a former teacher and administrator at Forestville High School, was even more candid in his assessment of Burroughs, whom he'll face on the ballot. "He is a child, and I am a professional," Morris said.

At least they can run. College Park's city council must really look down on the University of Maryland, because they don't think its students - or anyone under 25 - is fit for public office:

"The only thing most 18-year-olds are thinking about is when and where the next party is," said Leslie Booth, who supported raising the age to run for council to 25.

Another resident, Cindy Lollar, said 18-year-olds shouldn't be allowed to represent the city because they may not be concerned about the same issues as long-term residents, and Donna Weene added that she saw on Dr. Phil that brains don't mature until age 25.

One of the reasons I wrote so extensively about the issue of skateboarding in Silver Spring over the past year is because I so sorely wanted the predominantly-teenaged skaters to advocate for themselves AND to be heard by the community, didn't always happen. It is short-sighted and, frankly, kind of ignorant to assume that all young people are either stupid, hedonistic or criminals in the making.

By their logic, we should disallow people residents over 65 from running for office because some elderly people have poor physical or mental health. Some also go to bed early, meaning they won't be able to attend evening meetings. Of course, this would probably eliminate a good chunk of elected officials in Prince George's County or anywhere.

If I sat on the College Park City Council or the Prince George's County School Board, I wouldn't be so smug about my age and experience. It's not like either body is so well-run or so successful that they can tell an entire set of constituents to fuck off. They don't deserve to have such motivated young people in their midst. Murray and Burroughs should take their talents to a place that actually supports creativity rather than desperately clinging to the status quo.

1 comment:

Big Bubba said...

I, generally, agree with your premise that age is a bad requirement for elected office. I think most age requirements have an alternative motive behind the reason. College Park, probably, is discouraging the UMD crowd from ruling the roost.

Look at our US Constitution. You have to be 35 to run for President (and a natural citizen), and 25 to run for Congress. Why? I'm guessing our founding fathers were a bit concerned about newcomers who were arriving by the boatload.

Want to get around this in College Park. Take a look at Appalachain State University who years ago were annoyed with the anti-alcohol laws in their district. They fought back by registering as many students as possible (resindency requirements were easy.) Then the students started a petition to change the alcohol laws and won by a landslide because there were so many students who outnumbered the locals.