Many college students juggle external responsibilities like families and jobs.
This spring, one student will navigate a balancing act between his studies and his new position as Ohio's youngest elected official.
Eric Harmon, a 19-year-old first-year student at Kent State University-Tuscarawas, took office on January 2 as member-at-large for the Uhrichsville City Council. He will be the youngest person ever to serve on the council.
"It's busy, yeah," Harmon tells ABC 5, with a laugh. "I've always been interested in politics and I wanted to make a difference," he adds.
Harmon says he first became interested in politics during high school, when he took a class on government and participated in Buckeye Boys State, a program that aims to offer hands-on experience with the workings of local and state governments. Inspired, Harmon began his campaign for city council before graduating from high school.
During his four-year term, Harmon plans to focus on the local economy, city services, and infrastructure. He argues the city's location, within driving distance of three major cities, offers economic opportunities. He says he also plans to look for new sources of revenue so the city can invest in its police, fire, and street departments.
He also plans to continue studying integrated social studies in college and hopes to become a teacher one day.
Harmon has received advice and mentorship from another local official who got an early start: Dennison council member Greg DiDonato, who was elected as mayor at age 21 and went on to serve in both houses of the state legislature.
"Young people kind of get a bad rap," Harmon says. "I don't think that to be the case at all. Young people are interested, and I think young people are looking to get involved" (Bash, ABC News 5 Cleveland, 1/2; Baker, The Times-Reporter, 1/1; Buckeye Boys State site, accessed 1/10).
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