If you think young people don't care about civic affairs, you haven't met Will Demet.
The 22-year-old recent Marquette University graduate was just elected to the Whitefish Bay Village Board after months of campaigning door-to-door, talking to his neighbors about sewers, pesticides and other hot-button issues in the village.
Although he's made a lot of connections during his time in Whitefish Bay public schools, Demet believes a big part of his election night victory can be attributed to his face-to-face introductions with new people in Whitefish Bay. Demet said his young age never played a role in those conversations, despite the fact that he was talking to people two or three times his age.
"Some people seemed surprised or skeptical because of my age, but as I talked with them, they understood why I was interested," he said. "I feel like people just want to have someone who shows seriousness, earnestness and is willing to listen."
His friends and family weren't at all surprised to see him take an interest in village politics at such a young age, he said.
"People who know me, my friends and family, aren't surprised because I'm kind of a nerd that way," he said. "I've always had a passion for government and community issues."
Demet ran unsuccessfully for trustee in 2011, when he was among four write-in candidates competing for two open seats. He said that campaign gave him valuable experience learning about village issues and interacting with residents. Since that first election, Demet has also graduated from Marquette, bought a foreclosed home in Whitefish Bay and taken a job as a researcher for School Choice Wisconsin.
So, while it is easy to focus on Demet's age, he still shares the responsibilities of every other adult: a home, a job and an interest in contributing to his community. Or, as Demet put it: "I think it's not so much about your age but your situation in life."
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