Student political movements are a phenomenon that is sweeping the country. From influencing government policies, organizing local movements within the community, to bring reform to campus matters, such as housing—students are exercising their voting power. At Juniata College, one student, David Sill, of Hollidaqysburg, Pa., is taking his involvement a step further. David, a sophomore at Juniata took the initiative and ran for Mayor last year, as well as Borough Council in Huntingdon this year. He gave his expert opinion on local politics, exercising your political power, and how to get increase your involvement in local governments.
What factors influenced your decision to run for Mayor and Borough Council?
I have experience in Borough Government and local politics. I am from Hollidaysburg and served as the student borough council representative in high school. I have helped many local people get elected at home including my parents. I ran for Mayor to increase name recognition, as Borough Council is an unfamiliar position to the typical voter and would not effectively allow them to remember my name. I strived to gain legislative ability on the Borough Council to offer my experience and represent the students of Juniata College.
How did your policies differ from your opponents and how would these policies help Huntingdon?
Unlike the other people running for the office I actually had positions including tax incentives to increase tourism, keeping taxes low to allow economic growth, finding greener alternatives for energy that would save Huntingdon money, utilizing grant money from federal and state governments to pay for the recent water plant upgrade, and increasing programs and initiatives to increase Huntingdon’s appeal to perspective residents to Huntingdon and perspective students to Juniata. With Raystown Lake so close, there are so many opportunities for Huntingdon to bring new wealth and development into the area through tourism.
Do you think it is important for students at Juniata to be involved in local politics and why?
All citizens should be aware and involved in their politics, especially local and state. When students complain about the things they are upset with most, it almost always is something borough council deals with (such as Sheetz closing down at midnight, underage drinking policies, etc.). However, who are we to complain, when we do not vote at all, let alone for our fellow classmates to represent our interests? I know for a fact that a majority of political offices will disregard immediately any letters or requests from a citizen if they are not registered to vote, or if registered but an inactive voter, so the best thing someone can do for themselves to protect their interests either in the present or future is to remain informed and vote every time.
What have you learned from running for these positions?
I have realized the success and effectiveness of door-to-door campaigning and talking to people to see what they really want done. I have also learned a lot more about Huntingdon than I expected, which I appreciate. I could teach a local history course on Huntingdon and walk through the streets with a blindfold on and know where I am because of my walking around town and talking to so many people.
-Liz Roberts ’10, Juniata Online Journalist