Jamestown’s new Mayor is part of a wave of young people who are being elected to local political office across the nation over the past few years. While no two are alike, they have a few things in common; a natural ease with technology, an appetite for collaboration and impatience with automatic partisanship. They are ready and prepared to reshape their local governments. With many current local elected officials in their 60s and 70s, young people are eager to take on the responsibility of running our towns and cities.
Jamestown’s new Mayor is cut from the same cloth. Young people work in a very different way than older politicians. They don’t want to wait for a year to go by before tackling challenges. They want to try it now. While jumping in can have unintended consequences, Mayor Sundquist is very intent on listening to City employees and senior staff to make sure he makes sound decisions.
Another trait is teamwork. Young people approach a problem or task by forming a team of diverse talents to figure out a solution. That works very well in government where public input is a regular piece to solving most puzzles.
Ambition bordering on overconfidence and a willingness to tackle the most difficult problems are common among young leaders polled by TIME magazine. Svante Myrick, the 30-year-old mayor of Ithaca N.Y. says, “Millennials are more politically similar to their grandparents, who fought World War II, than their boomer parents. “Financial adversity and scarcity and austerity, and being shocked into a global awareness, means that our generation is primed and prepared for greatness.”
Time will tell.