Full time student, part time politician

Two Lutes balance classes and campaigns

Many students on campus cared about the results of this year’s election. Shannon Reynolds, a Pacific Lutheran University junior certainly did. Reynolds’ involvement, however, went a little further than voting in the election.

Reynolds was on the ballot.

After determining she wanted to help improve her hometown of Fircrest, Wash., Reynolds decided to run for a seat on the city council against 12-year incumbent Chris Gruver.

She won with 59 percent of the vote.

“I had no idea I’d win,” Reynolds said.

Located just east of Tacoma, Fircrest is home to roughly 6,500 people. Reynolds and her family moved there from Hawaii when she was 8 years old, and she said she has always appreciated the “small town” atmosphere and community-oriented programming.

However, Reynolds also said she was concerned the programming from the city was alienating unmarried residents and young adults. “I didn’t think it was fair they should be underrepresented,” the 20-year-old said.

Reynolds said her campaign was unconventional. Instead of television spots and newspaper ads, she simply introduced herself to residents by attending her favorite community events and being friendly.

Reynolds said she expects that community involvement will be a large part of her four-year term, but it’s also something she’s well acquainted with. She’s a regular attendee and volunteer of community events such as the city’s Tree Lighting, Relay for Life and National Night Out.

In addition, Reynolds said she hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the city council during her four-year term.

“There wasn’t a lot of vision anymore,” Reynolds said. “I’m more of a can-do-er. I feel that it’s important to put things in terms of the positive and what could be.”

Reynolds began her political career as an intern in city hall in high school through the Fircrest Business Association. The scholarship program she was involved in was terminated after one year, but Reynolds said she’d like to bring programs like that back.

“If I could do any project, that’s in my top three,” Reynolds said.

The economics-biology double major said she wants to become a doctor in the future, and one day hopes to open a family practice for disadvantaged communities.

“That’s my calling, what I’m pulled to do — put people and compassion above money,” Reynolds said. She said she is unsure of her future in politics. “I really like the taste I’ve gotten so far [of politics], so I’m not counting it out, but I’ll just take it day by day.”

Reynolds isn’t the only Lute with eyes on an elected office. Senior Eric Herde ran for a State Senate seat in the 25th Legislative District last year, but lost.

“It’s definitely a steep learning curve,” the Norwegian, environmental science, math and political science quadruple major said. “We [Herde and his supporters] understood it was a long shot.”

Herde first became interested in politics just before the 2008 election, when a local congressman held a town forum on healthcare reform near Herde’s home. The debate left Herde interested in more, and he quickly aligned himself with the Democratic party.

This year, Herde volunteered as a campaign consultant for three candidates for nearby city council positions. Two of the three won.

Herde wants to take office in the legislative branch someday, but doesn’t have any specific plans. After graduation, he hopes to work for a city planning agency in Tacoma.

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