This week, during its Annual Spring Meeting, the GOP is rolling out an impressive roster of young, fresh “rising stars,” who will be entrusted with moving the party forward into a creative innovative future of minority inclusion and conciliation.
Perhaps the most impressive of these is an African-American teenager, Lee Jackson. He appears pretty much like a typical 19 year old. That is, until you begin talking with him. There is then espoused a wisdom far beyond his years.
The political science student at the University of Maine wanted to change some things in Old Town, Maine, where he lives. The predominantly Democratic area is where Jackson has lived most of his life. No Republican candidate had a prayer running for public office.
Jackson entered the race for the Old Town School Board, the Regional School Unit (RSU) 34 Board of Directors. The incumbent had been in office for 16 years. No way was this kid going to unseat him.
Spending less than $200, Jackson won the seat in this past November’s election.
It turns out he won the old-fashioned way – he got out there in the community and talked to people in the district about what they wanted to see in their school board representative. For him, the Republican Party has offered myriad opportunity for growth and greatness.
“The Republican Party is the party of freedom and individual choice,” said Jackson. “There has been a perception that this is a party against helping people who need it, a party that is not compassionate toward those who need government assistance.
“That is just not true. Everyone needs help at some point of their lives, and they should receive that help. But people need a hand up and not a hand out. We want to make sure that people are empowered to achieve and accomplish what they want in life. We want to make sure that welfare does not become a way of life for people. That is what we stand for.”
Jackson was also elected by fellow Republicans to serve as the State Committee member from Penobscot County for the Maine Republican Party.
Never mind that he works at the McDonald’s a couple of blocks from the university.
“I make minimum wage at McDonald’s, but my landlord doesn’t care where the money comes from. I might have to work longer and harder than someone else to get my money, but it pays the bills all the same.
“I see firsthand the taxes that are taken out of paychecks, taxes on food, taxes on clothing. There is so much taxing. How much of the money we earn do we really get to keep?
“We feel the better way to govern is for everyone to have fair and equal opportunities to pursue their dreams. We want to see people keep more money in their pockets. This is our message. We welcome the opportunity to open dialogue on these issues.”
Special to The New Tri-State Defender