Frank Gunsallus is one of a new group of millennials running for office.
I was sitting in a restaurant with a young lady the other day. We were discussing the trainwreck of the Joe Biden's constant glitches and failure, Mitch McConnell's sudden freeze in public, and Diane Feinstein's staff telling her how to vote during a committee meeting. All of these geriatric candidates are well beyond the age when they should be retired, and in Feinstein's case, in a memory care unit. The young woman said something very enlightening. She said, "Why don't we have younger candidates running. I'm really getting tired of all these elderly people ruining our country."
Even though I am well past 65, I agreed with her. Even though I support a Presidential Candidate who is in his late 70's, I had to admit she is right. We need younger people to get involved in running this country.
This is not to say that older candidates are not capable. But there comes a time in our lives when we must give way to younger people to step up and take on the heavy lifting. And, as we all know, aging can cause physical and mental disabilities that keep people from dealing with the constant stress of public office.
If we are honest, we have to cite the ages of our Founding Fathers on July 4, 1776. Some were younger, like Thomas Jefferson who was 33, John Hancock who was 39, or old, such as Benjamin Franklin who was 70. Others were shockingly young — even teenagers. James Monroe, for example, was 18 and Alexander Hamilton was 21.
Obviously, being young was not an impediment for those who created our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. George Washington, the general who won the Revolutionary War and went on to become our first President, was 44, unusual even for our modern times.
People may say that in context, these ages were older and more mature than people of similar ages nowadays. Be that as it may, many would fit in the millennial designation. And they didn't see age as problem.
Some millennials agree and are running for office locally and nationally. Millennials are defined as people born between 1981 and 1996; or between the ages of 24 and 39 in 2020. And now, many of them are running for local, state, and national office.
On the National level, we see candidates such as Vivek Ramaswamy who proclaims himself as the "first millennial to run for President." Ramaswamy, who is 37 and polling at 12% among Republican candidates, promotes himself as a young family man with new ideas, new answers for old problems. His on-stage energy is palpable and is in direct contrast to older candidates with the exception of Trump, who seems to defy his age. Ramaswamy's youth doesn't make him an acceptable candidate, however, especially when you look at his shifting opinions, somewhat shady business background and connections to supporters who disqualify him for many voters. However, his age is not the issue.
Regionally, there are more millennial candidates. From the Washington Examiner in 2022:
A research project from the group Millennial Action Project shared today with Secrets showed that 1 in 6 candidates for the House and Senate are millennials, with two from Generation Z.
Overall, there are 193 “true millennial” candidates, those born between 1981 and 1996. And there are 334 candidates aged 45 or younger. “Despite not technically millennials, 45 represents the new generations to come in a political world where the average age of the U.S. House is 59 years old,” said the report.
And then we have local elections. Currently, in Easton, Maryland a millennial candidate, Frank Gunsallus, is running for President of the Easton Town Council. Frank is 35, married, and the father of an 8-month-old daughter. He is running against older candidates, Al Silverstein and Bob Willey.
Frank is not the first millennial to run in a local election. There were three candidates in the last Talbot County Council election who were in that age range. None of those candidates were elected.
In all three cases, it was more about their positions on issues (or lack thereof) than their age. Frank hopes to change that.
A graduate of Easton High School and Salisbury University, Frank also is a member of the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce where he is on the Board of Directors and the Easton Rotary Club. He and his wife work with Disaster Aid USA, a group who helps refugees and internally displaced people.
Stating that he wants to run to participate in public service and shape the future of our community, especially now that he is a father, Frank has vision for Easton. From his website:
"As Council President, my commitment will reach beyond the realms of bolstering economic growth, driving advancements in our indispensable infrastructure, and heightening our standard of living. An integral part of my mission will be to serve as a unifying force within our community, systematically bridging divides, and nurturing harmony. With steadfast dedication, I pledge to instill balance in our decisions and actions, ensuring that every voice doesn't just echo, but resonates in our collective consciousness. Our shared efforts will not merely benefit, but will empower every member of our town, steadfastly preserving the charm that defines us, while persistently elevating our shared experience of life."
Frank's life has not been an easy one, and he isn't afraid to share that he has served time in jail for a drug charge years ago. But although this was a tough time in his life, he used it to strengthen his Christian faith as well as his core values and ideas about how to improve the lives of citizens. After parole, he got a job and now has a career, a family and a home. He says if he could turn his life around, anyone can.
If being young doesn't make his run for office unique, he is also an Independent, eschewing the money and support of either the Republican or Democrat Party. This is also something millennials seem more inclined to do, citing that fact that neither party seems truly interested in anything other than power and money.
Common sense tells us that the age of a candidate should not be the determining factor in deciding who we should vote for.
But it also shouldn't keep people like Frank Gunsallus from running and earning our respect and our vote.