Glenn Stegall isn’t your average University of Georgia senior. On November 15, 2009, the 20-year-old political science major announced his candidacy for Mayor of Athens-Clarke County. The election is on November 2nd, and while Stegall is not the first ambitious undergrad to go after the college town Mayorship, he has a new advantage: a Barack Obama fund raising model, Facebook, and a life that began in poverty and transcended into the middle class – an advantage that he thinks, sets him apart.
“I believe being able to live in both poverty and the middle class allowed me to see two different worlds,” Stegall told me via e-mail. “I hope this unique experience will give me the insight and understanding a public servant needs to serve a diverse group of citizens.”
Athens-Clarke County is a city of about 100,000 people. As Stegall pointed out in our GChat video interview (see clip below), Athens is one of the poorest city in the United States. According to the Wall Street Journal, it is also one of the most unequal cities in terms of income. Could a 20-year-old possibly have the life experiences to address such a dreary reality?
“My life has also prepared me for this journey. I grew up in a small south Georgia town. The socioeconomic status of just about everyone was poor. Most people I came in contact with on a daily bases had little education…The difference I can make by simply talking about the issues, and raising awareness is worth my effort alone. If we wait for the perfect time to help people, the problems they face may not persist anymore. Our ability to help may not be the same. So I say why not, why wait, and why not step up to the plate now.”
But perhaps what is most intriguing about Stegall’s run is his ability to stay in the race financially. The top contender who has yet to announce his candidacy, Spencer Frye, has raised over $11,000, according to the Athens-Clarke Board of Elections. Stegall has a little over $3,000 on hand, a surprising amount for a candidate who has only been on the trail for two months.
Frye’s contributions have come from less than a dozen individuals. Stegall – over a hundred.