When it comes to activism, Progressive millennials have the market cornered and they’re seen as change agents. We see large crowds at protests and trending hashtags. They assume they’re the ones pushing policy, but while they’re making such a public showing, a growing number of Conservative millennials are winning elections and enacting lasting changes.
Western Washington is home to a number of Conservative millennials who are just as passionate about the issues as those who protest, but they’re choosing to run for elective office, develop power, and thus, more effectively push policies. In fact, despite being seemingly outnumbered by the political left, these young conservatives are slowly turning a blue region into a closer shade of purple.
Over at the Snohomish County Council, councilmember Nate Nehring, 22, is busy running a re-election campaign. He’s earned endorsements from the entire Republican delegation of Washington State Senators and Representatives. He has been able to help end a years-long fight on how to fix (and pay for) the Snohomish County courthouse renovation project. With his leadership, a recently proposed plan passed, despite Democrats dragging their feet.
“This decision saved about 150 million in taxpayer dollars and it brought what had previously been one of the most controversial issues in the county to an end after several years,” Councilmember Nehring explained to me.
Puyallup State House Representative Melanie Stambaugh, elected at 24 years old, has been busy fighting for Washington workers, sponsoring and helping to pass a bill that expedites payments to subcontractors working on public projects. She’s also been working on legislation aimed at making college textbooks more affordable so that we can “…uncover and eliminate any barriers in place that hurt our students’ ability to attend and graduate from college.”
Russell Wiita, a 22-year-old recent graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in political science, was elected to City Council in Sultan a little more than a year ago. A big recent accomplishment? He helped hire a city prosecuting attorney to tackle cases the community needed to be addressed.
“For years, misdemeanors in Sultan went unanswered for because the county prosecutor had bigger fish to fry,” Councilman Wiita explained to me. “The Sultan City Council decided to move forward hiring a dedicated city prosecutor so that wrongdoers would be held accountable.”
Inspired by the spate of young conservatives running and winning, Jake Walker is aiming to become the next city councilmember from Monroe. Walker is bright, inspired, and passionate — he’s also a fan of Jason and Burns — so his taste is impeccable. He stands a great chance of winning and he’s unlikely to be the last young Conservative stepping up and trying to earn positions of power and responsibility.
The positions these lawmakers hold run the gamut of influence, but these young Conservatives have been able to turn their passions into change for their community. And they’re doing it in a region known for Progressive politics and activism. It seems like, despite being outnumbered, these young, bright Conservatives are using a smart strategy to influence the region’s politics, making them just as powerful as the thousands chanting in streets or creating hashtag campaigns.