Originally created 08/31/02

Young candidate diverges from trend

Popular opinion holds that America's young people aren't voting, are less connected with the communities where they live and are generally apathetic when it comes to civic duty.

If that's the case, Jason Whinghter, a 25-year-old architect running for the North Augusta City Council seat Kent Sullivan resigned from in July, is bucking the trend.

Mr. Whinghter, who holds a graduate degree from Clemson University in city and regional planning, is running against Randy Parks, John Felak and Jimmy Adams in the city's Republican primary Sept. 10.

The winner will face Democrat Darrell Blocker at the Nov. 5 general election.

"This is as good an opportunity as any to jump in and get my feet wet," said Mr. Whinghter, who grew up in Beech Island and moved to North Augusta about a year and a half ago.

"I'm coming in there with no set agenda. I'm a Republican and conservative."

Though a newcomer to the political scene, he's no stranger to bureaucracy. As a planner at the Augusta firm of Cranston, Robertson and Whitehurst, he's helped direct projects in Augusta and Columbia County.

And he's interned for the city and county of Spartanburg's strategic planning office.

It's shown him the benefits of research and finding the best possible solution for government and the private developer, he said.

"I'll be the first person to say, 'I don't know,"' Mr. Whinghter said over lunch recently. "I won't just tell someone what they want to hear."

Mr. Whinghter, who has sandy blond hair and a straightforward demeanor, said he's realistic about his chances. He said he's an underdog because his opponents are older and have lived in the city much longer than he has.

That works against Mr. Whinghter, said USC Aiken political science professor Bob Botsch.

Although, "if he has the time and energy, it's very conceivable he could win," Mr. Botsch said.

The professor said outside of protest candidates in the 1960s and '70s, young people running for office are out of the ordinary.

"Most people at that age are busy getting their careers going," he said. "Usually they don't vote."

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 279-6895 or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.


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