BY: NICK SAWICKI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
The next generation of politicians are beginning to emerge here in America, and 18 year old Mike Floyd is one of them. Floyd is one of the youngest elected officials in the nation, who now serves as a member of Pearland School District’s ISD Board of Trustees. He was elected to the school board position on May 6, 2017 after running against 2-term incumbent, Rusty DeBorde. In a recent interview with Next Generation Politics, Floyd recounted the process and the work that lead to his eventual election.
Floyd’s “engagement in politics since [he] was 14” led him to enter the school board campaign with the knowledge of how the whole “process works.” Prior to his election, Floyd personally ran two congressional campaigns, two city council campaigns, and a state representative race in his county. Part of Floyd’s mission in his own school board campaign was to bring as many “young people into the process” as possible. This manifested in his “entire staff, including [his] manager, strategy adviser, and policy creators” being comprised of high school students. Post election, Floyd is in the process of forming a “student advisory council that works in relation with the board of education” in an effort to further involve members of the next generation in politics and policy change. He hopes that his school board campaign could “potentially do something bigger” where if any of his campaign team members wish to “run for office later on in their lives, maybe they can look back on this experience and use it to propel themselves forward.”
Floyd went on to relate how his campaign raised legitimate issues within the school board that, even if he didn’t become elected, would still be discussed because of his campaign team’s persistent effort during the campaign process. Floyd was able to “force a conversation” because of the increased media attention the race was generating, using it as a “platform to communicate the ideas that [they] had.” An issue that Floyd and his team kept coming back to was that of transgender students rights. This came after his own superintendent called transgender students “pedophiles.” He campaigned on this traditionally “wedge issue” but was still able to succeed in his community of 65% republicans because of the fact that he held over 40 events while his opponent held none. Individuals and business owners were able to communicate with him on a personal level, and Floyd argued that “though they might not agree on this one issue, there are nine other that they still did.”
Floyd went on to talk about the lack of transparency surrounding the school board, and, what he categorizes as “gross incompetence within local government” i.e. “certain board members don’t even know the difference between your honors, advanced, and AP courses.” Most alarmingly, he bluntly stated that his district “does not like public comment.” After the superintendent made inappropriate comments about transgender students, they had “lines going out the door of people wanting to yell at him.” Their solution? Move public comment time to 4:00 so that it made it difficult if not impossible for everyone employed to participate. By doing so, they “purposefully secluded themselves from the community” so they wouldn’t have to listen. They also just passed a “22 million dollar budget” where the school board added “3 more projects which were not included in the vote, not included in the proposal.” Floyd expressed his discontent that the school board never “publishes videos of their meetings even though it’s an open meeting” which every other council in their community does. The overarching message is that not just “increased student involvement, not just parent involvement and not just community involvement, but actually how the district is giving access to information” is necessary to most effectively run the school board. Floyd believes they have “not been doing a good job so far” but that hopefully over the course of his 3-year term he can find a way to improve the transparency issue within the school board.
Having an 18 year old win an election against an incumbent in his 40’s is a significant feat. Floyd commented on the election saying that “It was a weird paradox. Normally you have your parents trying to get their kids involved in politics, but in this situation it was the kids trying to get the parents involved.” Welcome to the next generation of politics.