19-Year-Old Enters Jacksonville Mayoral Race
On the surface, Clayton Junkins might seem like a pretty typical 19-year-old. He graduated from Fletcher High School last year and has enrolled at Flagler College. His major is Political Science with a Pre-Law minor, and among other things he enjoys bowling, tennis, and playing video games during his free time.
His dad is an officer in the Navy, stationed at Mayport and currently serving over in Iraq.
A big fan of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Junkins recently decided it was time for him to take a big leap into public service. He filed papers with the Supervisor of Elections to run for mayor of Jacksonville in 2011. He says his campaign will focus on education, taxes, the economy, limiting government power, reducing crime, and getting citizens more involved in their communities.
Junkins has officially become the first ever candidate for mayor to have been born during the 1990's. Though just barely... his birthday was January 11th of 1990. And to be fair, he has filed his candidacy well in advance of the election.
He will be 21 by the time he would take office.
As has been proven again and again, young candidates should not be dismissed solely because of their age. In fact, there are examples of several very young candidates who have even been elected as mayors in the past, though not in any city the size of Jacksonville.
Back in 2005, 18-year-old Michael Sessions ousted an incumbent mayor in Hillsdale, Michigan (pop. 9,000). Jeffrey Dunkel, one month shy of 19, was voted in as the mayor of tiny Mount Carbon, Pennsylvania back in 2002. Other teenagers have been elected as mayors of towns in Oregon, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere.
Even locally, youthful candidates have had some success.
At 24, Reggie Fullwood became the youngest person ever elected to the Jacksonville City Council back in 1999. Kara Tucker was elected to the Neptune Beach City Council last year, also at the age of 24. And Jacksonville City Councilman Clay Yarborough was elected to his seat in 2007 at the age of 26. Although Yarborough already had some experience in elected office, having served on the Duval Soil and Water Conservation Board since first winning election at only 19 years of age.
Recently, Junkins agreed to answer a few questions about his campaign.
Q & A with MAYORAL CANDIDATE CLAYTON JUNKINS
OBSERVER: I guess the first question is the obvious one. You're only 19 years old, you graduated from High School just last year, you're a student at Flagler College. What makes you qualified to be mayor of Jacksonville?
JUNKINS: I feel that I am mature enough to handle the responsibilities that come with being Mayor. I represent the next generation of leaders who will inherit the problems left by those before us, why not start early? Having been a student in the public school system of Jacksonville has provided much insight as to what is wrong with our schools. I describe myself as: tolerant of other beliefs, reasonable, mature, dedicated, and a realist. When I see a problem, I do not hesitate in expressing how I feel. Finally, I am here for the people, if they cannot trust their leaders, there is a problem.
OBSERVER: When did you first become interested in politics? Is running for office something you've been thinking about for a long time?
JUNKINS: I first became interested in politics in 2004, when there were many mixed reviews of George W. Bush. I made it a priority to study politics so that I would be able to form my own opinions about what is "right" and what is "wrong" with politicians. Running for public office has been something I have aspired to do since tenth grade.
OBSERVER: Do you have any ideas for how you might be able to help spur the revitalization of downtown Jacksonville?
JUNKINS: Revitalizing downtown Jacksonville will be easier said than done. My plans to revitalize the downtown area would include: encouraging and supporting more events such as Art Walk, funding for the gentrification of historic neighborhoods and buildings such as the old Post Office; School 4; and the old Ford Motor plant, providing aid to the homeless, making good use of vacant land, and encouraging residents to help clean up Jacksonville. Part of my platform is to increase citywide resident involvement.
OBSERVER: What was your position, if any, on the recent landfill debate? If you were mayor now, would you have supported extending the contract with Waste Management or would you have been in favor of opening the bidding to outside contractors?
JUNKINS: Personally, I do not approve of landfills for environmental reasons. If I were mayor I would have extended the contract with Waste Management, just to avoid any legal issues which may affect tax payers. However, I would stress that one line in the contract saying that if better technology was used, the contract would be void.
OBSERVER: How much money do you expect to raise to support your campaign? Are you planning to pay the filing fee or try to qualify by collecting petitions?
JUNKINS: I have not set a certain amount of money I expect to raise. When it comes to the fee or the petitions I will use whichever comes first; while I hope to get enough petitions, I will pay the fee if necessary.
OBSERVER: Are there any current or past leaders that you would model yourself after if you were elected?
JUNKINS: There are numerous cliché answers to a question like this. While I could say leaders such as: Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan (all of which are excellent examples) I prefer to use more contemporary examples I have witnessed firsthand. Governor Sarah Palin is somewhat of an idol to me, I would model myself after her being able to relate to everyday Americans by actually working for them. Another leader I would consider is John Tyler Hammons, mayor of Muskogee, Oklahoma. Mayor Hammons also took the risk of entering the political arena at a young age. However, while his campaign began as a joke between a teacher and himself, my campaign is serious.
OBSERVER: On a more personal note, have you read any good books lately?
JUNKINS: Yes, I have read some good books lately, I am currently reading Guilty by Ann Coulter. I have recently finished reading Jihad vs. McWorld by Benjamin Barber, The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman, and Sarah Palin: A New Kind of Leader by Joe Hilley.
OBSERVER: What other kinds of things do you enjoy doing while you’re not campaigning?
JUNKINS: I am a very active person, while not campaigning I enjoy bowling and playing tennis. Being outdoors is another of my hobbies, whether I am at a beach or in the middle of a forest, nature is relaxing. Before going to college I was a volunteer at the Beaches Boys and Girls Club, I hope to volunteer with the kids again soon as well as with the animals at the Humane Society. Finally, video games are something I really enjoy. Before I cause too much worry, I will assure the readers that I am not a fan of blood and gore. My collection is made up of educational and entertaining adventure games.
OBSERVER: Thanks very much for taking the time to talk with us, is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you?
JUNKINS: Please do not let my age confuse anybody about my ability to lead. I am open to questions or interviews scheduled beforehand and hope to meet as many of you as possible over the course of this campaign. Feel free to send any questions or comments to me; I am on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for your interest!