I was pretty intrigued to learn about Michael Session's victory as Hillsdale's new mayor last Tuesday. As you probably know by now, Sessions is only 18 but won a two vote victory over incumbent Doug Ingle, owner of Stadium Roller Rink.
Sessions has been all over the media and a Google News search turned up over 250 articles from as far away as Pakistan. I caught his Top 10 list on Letterman and saw him on Countdown with Keith Olbermann.
As I mentioned, I was "intrigued" by all of this. At first I was even a bit skeptical. Was this some kind of joke like Minnesotans electing Jesse Ventura? Then I started to pay attention to the kid's story. He's bright. He's a hard worker. He cares about his community and instead of just hanging out in the Kroger parking lot on Friday nights crabbing about what a stinky town he lives in, he went out and did something to make it better.
Some of the things I have liked best from Mr. Sessions have been his comments about Hillsdale College. I read in the LA Times and Collegian that he wants to become a Charger and study politics. He also stated that he would love to see more Hillsdale grads stick around the community after graduation.
Bridging the Gap
Right away I started to think about the impact Sessions could have bridging the gap between "The Hillbilly Townies and The Richies on the HIll". I use those tired old stereotypes to mark the divide, because in reality both are really, really off-base. Most townspeople are hard working, intelligent, and family-oriented. They live many of the values the college promotes. On the other side, a large number of College students come from small towns just like Hillsdale. According to the Hillsdale College website, financial aid packages average ten grand per student. Both groups of people are really very similar. Yes, there are some real Cooters out there and there are some real snobs on campus, but they are really the exceptions.
There are already lots of examples of the community and college interacting to benefit each other. But, if Michael Sessions in fact does become a Hillsdale College student he will be a visible figure that both sides can call their own--a person who can foster more cooperation for the benefit of everyone.
It's so cliche:"Any publicity is good publicity. Personally, I would have to disagree since the last time national news crews came to Hillsdale was to cover the George Roche debacle. But in this case the publicity is very good for the town, the college, and the Charger football program. Yes, the football program. As Otter and his staff hit the road and the living rooms selling Hillsdale College to potential recruits, that little bit of name recognition could really help. Is a kid going to sign because he heard about the town having a teenager for its mayor? No. But a kid might not hang up the phone or pitch a recruiting letter in the trash because the name Hillsdale rings a bell somehow.
Something to Feel Good About
The buzz across the world on this story has been nothing but positive. That is great because for a number of years the good people of Hillsdale County haven't experienced a whole of positive news. Sessions ran because he wanted to shake things up. He felt the town was depressed and stagnant, or "too laid back" as he put it. Jobs had left town and he wanted to do all he could to pick up the spirits a bit. I would say that he has definitely done that. If nothing more ever comes of this unlikely ascention to office, it has given Hillsdale residents something to be happy about.
All that is really left to say is Good Luck Michael Sessions! From what I have read, you sound like a bright, ambitious young man who wants to make a difference. I may live two and a half hours away but Hillsdale is someplace I still care a lot about. Thank you for caring too.....And oh yeah, hurry up and get that application in to the admissions office. I think you'd make a fine Hillsdale College student. One more thing: Chargerblue.com could use a celebrity endorser. Email me and we can discuss the terms.