Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sky's the Limit

Running for an elected office - any elected office - is a major undertaking at any age. Whether it's a tiny village or major metropolitan community with a population in the millions, the responsibilities of meeting the myriad of public trust needs are unbelievable. Today it's drought. In eight months, it could be snow measured in feet & car-eating potholes.

To perform the duties of a mayor or alderman of a municipality at 22 years old is huge. Peforming those duties while still in college is beyond huge.

The citizens of Gillespie, IL, have placed their confidence in two such people. Two overachievers, two high school friends, are now Mr. Mayor & Mr. Alderman. They are Young Politicians with almost-limitless possibilities.

Many times when the younger generation is in the news, it's for all the wrong reasons. Today, a story that gives the younger generation a vote of confidence.

Tucked between the cornfields of Macoupin County, Illinois, you'll find the small town of Gillespie. It's a town proud of its heritage and proud of its youth. Part of that youth is now running the town. Twenty-two year old Josh Ross is Gillespie's new Mayor. "I officially don't have a first name," says Ross. "I'm just mayor now. That's a switch."

Twenty-two year old Ryan Fischer is Josh's best friend, and recently elected city alderman. "It's different," says Fischer. Josh and Ryan were born and raised in Gillespie, even graduated high school together. Although four years later, the yearbook is still a bit of a touchy subject. "You still haven't written anything in my year book," says Fischer to Ross. "I'm still trying to cook-up something good," Ross quickly answers.

"They were both good students and good people, says Paul Skeans, Superintendent of the Gillespie School District. "They were toward the top of the leadership in their class and they've exemplified that since they've been out of school."

Ryan is now enrolled at S-I-U Edwardville, studying of course, Political Science. He also works for his uncle's pest control company. Ryan owns a successful lawncare and landscaping business. "For me, work was never a problem," says Fischer.

The two are dedicated to the town and dedicated to their jobs. "The best part about (my job) is knowing when I sit behind this desk or in a council meeting, I can make a difference for Gillespie, and that the decisions I make can effect a lot of lives very positively."

The political bug bit Josh when he was 16 and working with former State Senator Vince Demuzio as a page in Springfield. When he was 18, Josh became the youngest person ever elected to the Illinois State Board of Education. But throwing his hat into the ring for mayor created a new set of problems. "My dad said i'll support you, but my mom didn't talk to me for two weeks."

Ryan's mom was a little more receptive to the idea that her son was running for alderman. "He's a very good communicator for such a young man," says Julie Fischer. Both delivered a positive message to voters and the two easily won their races. In fact, Josh defeated the incumbent. "A lot of (the voters) said let's give the kid a shot," says Josh.

A feat that seems extraordinary to some, is nothing more than ordinary to others. "I think folks that don't do anything in their life are doing some thing out of the ordinary," says Ryan Fischer. "I think folks that keep working and trying to do a good thing are just living life. If you just sit around, wasting time, I think that's out of the ordinary.

As for the future? "The skies the limit," says Ross.

The sky’s almost the limit Mr. Mayor. Both of you have to wait 13 years before running for president & vice president.

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