ARGYLE - He was too young to vote in the last presidential election. And one of his opponents in the race for a seat on the Argyle Town Board has served nearly as long as he's been alive.
But what is most unusual about 19-year-old Kelly Eustis' campaign is that it was launched through the online community facebook.com.
His friend and campaign manager Kameron Spaulding set up the site, called "Run, Kelly, Run!," and used it to garner support from the students in his graduating class at Argyle High School. Friends left a variety of short notes on the site, such as "Kelly kid … you got my vote!" and, "We can all support a guy like Kelly!" but they all have one thing in common - they're from young Argyle residents taking interest in a Town Board election.
"I started thinking about running because I really think that younger people should be getting involved with the town," said Eustis, a Republican. "I think being younger, I can relate to the younger people. If you ask most people under 25, the majority of them probably have no idea who sits on the board."
One of Eustis' goals for the town is to make government more accessible to the average person, including the town's youths. He'd like the Town Board to create a Web site, and he also thinks meeting agendas should be posted on the town's site, www.argyleny.com.
"Many of the town board members don't even have an e-mail address," he said.
He's also promised to create opportunities for Argyle's young people, to promote economic development in the town, and to review the town's highway coverage.
A junior at SUNY Potsdam - he just finished his sophomore year finals - Eustis is studying labor relations. If he is elected, he'll have to balance his time between school and the town of Argyle, but he said he has a plan in place.
"I think that's a question most people will be asking," he said. "If I'm elected, I'll start in January and will have classes only the first few days of the week, so I can set office hours for Fridays."
You have free articles remaining.
He has also promised to attend each and every town board meeting.
He is always up to date on local news, he said, because his family still lives in Argyle - his father, Kelly G. Eustis, is a master sergeant in the New York National Guard, and his mother, Tami Eustis, works as a receptionist in a Fort Edward dentist office. His two sisters, Kourtney, 17, and Shannon, 13, both attend Argyle Central School.
Eustis's campaign manager, Kameron Spaulding, is a fellow Argyle graduate, though of a different political party - he is a Democrat, another slight problem that Eustis says, well, isn't really a problem.
"I've known Kameron for years," Eustis said. "I don't think political parties have anything to do with this campaign. I'm really just running to improve the town. Partisan politics really applies more to state and national races."
On Friday evening, Eustis made the three-hour drive from Potsdam to Argyle to announce his candidacy for town councilman. His mother, Tami Eustis, met him at the Argyle town offices with a blazer, which he wore while he told a group of four supporters of his intent to run.
His enthusiasm is somewhat unusual for a town board race.
His Web site, www.kellyseustis.com, is updated often with press releases and offers opportunities for constituents to submit questions or comments about the campaign. It also has a link to Facebook, which Eustis' friends can click to join his newest Facebook group, called "Eustis for Argyle Town Councilman." He is hoping his presence on the local political scene will encourage the younger generation in Argyle to vote.
Argyle Town Supervisor Bob Henke said that now that Eustis has thrown is name into the Town Board race, a primary will likely be held before the elections. There are two seats open on the board, and both are held by Republicans - Dick Ayers, who is serving his first term, and Melvin McWhorter, who has sat on the board for nearly 20 years.
Henke said Eustis' age does not effect whether or not he can do the job.
"A person's abilities aren't necessarily predicated on age," he said. "What I think is more critical in government is enthusiasm and willingness to devote time to the town, whether they're 19 or 106."