WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Running for Office for the First Time

Apr 26, 2017

Galesburg voters saw a few new names on this month's ballot.  A couple of the newcomers who did not win said they nonetheless benefited from the experience.

One of those newcomers, Isaiah Harlan, might seem like any other senior at Galesburg High School. The 18-year-old has applied to college and is counting down the days until graduation. But this spring, he spent his free time campaigning for a spot on the Galesburg Board of Education.

Harlan was one of 5 candidates vying for 2 open seats on the board​. Even though he did not win, he still wants to run for public office again.

“I would run my next campaign the same way I ran this one. Just hard work and meeting with people, letting them know that their voice is going to be heard,” said Harlan.

Chris King (right) speaking with TSPR's Miranda Corbett
Credit Heather Norman

Harlan says that the most important component of his campaigning was meeting people door-to-door. “You can send out televised ads, you can send out radio ads, but there’s something about meeting someone face-to-face that creates a whole new dynamic in that relationship,” he said.

Another political newcomer, Chris King, said she also loved meeting people. She said she spent over 30 hours talking to voters door-to-door as she campaigned for a seat on the Galesburg City Council.  Though incumbent Wayne Allen won, King and Torry Carnes, the third candidate, together earned about 55% of the vote. King believes this means people in her ward are ready for a change.

“I think that says a lot about what people are wanting and what people aren’t getting or what people are currently receiving...when I look at the numbers I think it’s very telling of what’s going on,” said King.

King, who is in her early twenties, hoped to bring diversity to the city council.

“I’m a person of color and a woman of color and we have no people of color on our city council which is very bothersome. That’s not representative of our community whatsoever,” King said in an interview before the election.

King said she’s interested in running for office again in the future, though she doesn’t know if she’ll run again for city council.

King said she still wants to see changes in her community—the same changes that motivated her to run for office this year.