2 youthful candidates want to be council president

Regardless of which candidate wins in November, the next Marietta City Council president will be in their 30s-a change of pace for the council leadership post currently occupied by Walt Brothers, who is in his 70s, and previously held for two terms by Paul Bertram III who is now 51.

Marietta resident Jackie Benton, 41, has no problem with younger candidates.

“I think it’s a good thing,” she said. “At that age they’re old enough to have built up some experience,” she said. “And anytime we can get younger people involved in government it’s good.”

At 31, Democrat Kevin Paskawych is the youngest candidate, running against 36-year-old Republican Josh Schlicher.

“I know there was some concern about my age early on-some people I’ve met think I’m 24 or 25 years old,” Paskawych said. “But when I tell them I’m over 30 they’ll say that’s OK.”

He said it’s his life experience that should count when it comes to presiding over city council.

“I do have a lot of knowledge about the job as well as directional and managerial experience that makes me suited for council president,” Paskawych added. “I may be young, but want to allay any fears about my age being an issue.”

Schlicher, who has already served on city council, says being a younger candidate has its advantages.

“Youth is good, but you have to have some experience, too. A fresh viewpoint is important,” he said. “There are 21-year-olds who may be ambitious and run for office, but it’s good to have some real world experience first.”

Schlicher said he would like to see more young people becoming involved in government, but he also believes there should be a balance between the young and more senior office-holders.

Jeffrey Duclos, 39, of Marietta said younger people can be good public servants if they’ve had the right kind of upbringing.

“If they’ve been raised in a good home and have good values, I wouldn’t be concerned,” he said.

Duclos also noted young people can be a little mistrustful of the older generation, and he expects both council president candidates will do well with younger voters.

One sign of their youth may be that both candidates are making use of social media to reach out to voters.

“I do use Facebook, not only for campaigning, but to announce local events people may want to attend, like the Sweet Corn Festival,” Paskawych said. “I see it as a promotional tool for Marietta as much as a campaign tool. But I can keep up with my supporters and I’ve had several people email me to ask what I’m all about.”

He still plans to do plenty of door-to-door campaigning, too.

Schlicher, a local business owner, said he also uses social media regularly and will do some campaigning online.

“Probably 95 percent of my business is done via email,” he said. “And during the last two elections I’ve had a website. It’s just another avenue to contact voters, but I’ll also be knocking on doors.”

As for why he’s seeking office, Paskawych said the Marietta community has been supportive of him and his family through good times and bad, and serving as council president would be a way to give some of that support back.

“I’ve been shadowing Walt (Brothers) extensively and have tried to attend as many council meetings as possible,” he said. “I’m prepared and know what’s expected of me, and I’m excited about this opportunity.”

Schlicher said he’s always had an interest in public service and in making a contribution to the Marietta community.

“When I served back in 2011 I always went beyond what was required of me,” he said. “I would investigate issues before they came to council or the committees. I know and like being involved with the city’s inner workings. The job can be demanding and it takes time and commitment. But it’s also very rewarding to me, and as a young man I have the energy level and passion to do this.”