It's off to the races for two Ashland High School students fulfilling their senior project requirements by working behind the scenes of Alan DeBoer's campaign for mayor.
"It's been a really good way to just get our toes in the water," says Emma Cobb, who joined the campaign trail when classmate Alexander Sukles asked her to partner with him on the project. "The second our principal contacted me and asked if I was interested in working with Alan, I immediately thought of Emma," Sukles says.
DeBoer asked AHS Principal Michelle Zundel for recommendations over the summer break. As campaign managers, Cobb and Sukles update DeBoer's website and Facebook page, and take care of all things technical, DeBoer says. They also talk finances, stake yard signs and attend regular meetings.
"Our job is very much getting the word out," Cobb says. "Things are coming to a head "… I think it's definitely going to be an interesting election, seeing who Ashland chooses as the next mayor."
With that determination less than a month away, the students were canvassing Ashland neighborhoods handing out pamphlets Saturday. Before taking on politics for his senior project, 17-year-old Sukles had plans to create a nonprofit organization focused on identifying funding for international students interested in attending universities throughout the United States, he says.
Cobb was planning on coauthoring a book about Los Angeles-based Cornerstone Theater Company, but things have worked out well, both say.
Sukles is mostly interested in international policy, he says, "but this has been a good chance to see how local politics are run."
He plans to attend college in Washington D.C., listing American University, The George Washington University and Georgetown University as potential choices.
Cobb, 17, is waiting to hear back from Harvard University, she says, but is considering Tufts University, and a shortlist of other Boston-area schools.
Both students say political science would make a good major, but Sukles is leaning toward some combination of international relations, economics, or business, and Cobb is considering anthropology.
Ashland Mayor John Stromberg is seeking a second term in office, but he faces challengers DeBoer and political newcomer Keith Michael Erickson, who is listed as "Biome" on the ballot.
DeBoer was Ashland's mayor for four years beginning in 2001 and didn't seek a second term.
"There is nothing more fun that working with our young adults," DeBoer says, "If we can get young kids involved with understanding elections, it's going to make them a better adult later in life."
Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.