29-Year-Old Mayor Shares Insights of Holding Office

January 15th 2017

Dave Fonseca

In many ways, 29-year-old Ryan Reynolds is just like most Millennials. He's got an active social media presence, loves "Game of Thrones," and describes himself on his Twitter bio as a "gym enthusiast" and "lifelong gamer"

But there is one way he distinguishes himself from the rest of his generation.

Studies show that most 18-34 year olds have next to no interest in local politics, but Reynolds doesn't share that: He has served as mayor of his small village of Whitney Point, New York, for nearly two years.

Reynolds' participation in Reddit's "Ask Me Anything" series on Friday went viral, prompting hundreds of questions about what it's like to participate in government at the grassroots level.

Here are some of the most valuable pieces of experience Reynolds shared during his AMA.

1. Qualifying to run for local office is simpler than most people think.

Reynolds explained that getting on a ballot is as simple as calling your city's or town's local board of elections to find out what seats are up for grabs and collecting the required number of signatures.

reddit board of elections

2. If at first you don't succeed, run, run again.

Reynolds didn't take a direct path to the mayor's office. He lost two separate runs for county legislature before being appointed to his village's board of trustees, which positioned him for a successful mayoral run.

reddit legislature race

3. Get to know your local political party officials.

"Start attending local government meetings, start getting involved with whatever party that you're a member of (If you are a member of a party), and just start being active," Reynolds said. "Don't wait for someone to approach you. Just go out there and do things you think need to be done. The doors will open."

Party Officials

4. Every vote really counts in local politics.

Reynolds became mayor in March 2015 by defeating a fellow board of trustees member by just 10 votes. In fact, the initial tally had to be recounted when it showed just a five-vote margin.

reddit recount

5. Serving in local politics is a balancing act.

Reynolds doesn't draw much of a salary from serving as mayor, so he has to balance his responsibilities while working full time as a manager of a local Rite Aid.

working two jobs

There's no guarantee that every 29-year-old who runs for office will get elected, but Reynolds' experience shows that the path exists for anyone who is willing run, lose, and run again.

Click here to read more of Reynolds answers.