By Reed Jaworski
Jamesville-DeWitt High School junior Simon Schmitt-Hall recognizes that holding a political office might be a long shot, but he isn’t deterred. And even if he wasn’t successful in his political aspirations, Schmitt-Hall stilI wants to do as much as possible “to make a difference.” Although not entirely newly found, many students, like Schmitt-Hall, have had a growth in their desires for political involvement since New York State’s midterm elections.
This increase in political sentiment started way back in May when senior Josh Gutmaker got involved with the Democratic Committee for its upcoming midterm elections. Since Gutmaker’s involvement, nearly a dozen more kids have gotten involved in the democratic campaign. Although not entirely influenced by Gutmaker, the idea of political volunteering grew more apparent after his entry to the Democratic Committee.
For example, Schmitt-Hall said he probably wouldn’t have known about joining the Maffei campaign if it weren’t for Gutmaker’s involvement. Although already politically involved, being the Student Government Director of Communications, Schmitt-Hall, like many others, made the independent decision to volunteer for the Maffei campaign due to his love for politics.
Most student volunteers from J-DHS joined up with the democratic campaign. Junior Meg Parker said that she joined Maffei’s campaign because she generally aligns herself with the “Democratic Party’s ideals.” Like Parker, senior Hunter Siegel-Cook, Gutmaker and Schmitt-Hall all had views similar to Maffei’s.
However, one student had a different reason for joining the Maffei campaign. Junior Sargon Bebla, a republican, decided to ask to volunteer in both campaigns. Since the democratic campaign responded first, Bebla ended up working for Maffei.
Bebla is a firm believer that effective governance requires an open-mindset, something that he hoped to acquire by working with the opposite party’s campaign. “I found it interesting working with the other side to understand their viewpoints,” said Bebla.
Although Maffei’s campaign was a failure, resulting in a 59.9 percent to 40.1 percent loss to John Katko on Nov. 4, 2014, it greatly increased student’s political desires.
Some might find it ironic for high school students to get so heavily involved in political campaigns, as they can’t vote, but it’s actually quite logical. Lacking the right to vote is “the exact reason you have to get involved,” said Gutmaker. Gutmaker explained that the only way to represent yourself in the United States as a minor is to directly involve yourself in the political campaigns. And even if students don’t have an opinion, it teaches the students “so when they do have the right to vote” they can “make informed decisions,” said Parker.