Wearing a bathing suit and t-shirt, District 16 Delegate candidate Jordan Cooper gave a speech at a Sunday pool party fundraiser about the importance of attracting Millennials to Montgomery County.
Cooper, a 28-year-old former legislative aide in the House of Delegates, wants 18-32-year-olds to be more invested in politics.
He talked about the difficulty for young people of becoming financially independent in a down economy, the need for more transit-oriented development that would make ownership of a car unnecessary and the lack of solid job opportunities even for those with expensive college and graduate degrees.
But in District 16, where the vast majority of voters will be older than the so-called Millennial generation, is that a message that will resonate?
“It is a challenge,” Cooper said. “There are a lot of parents of Millennials. Registered voters who do participate in the electoral process have children in their 20s, 30s and college-age and they feel the pressure that these Millennials are facing, kids moving back in with their parents after college. I think when you have baby boomers squeezed by aging parents and dependent Millennials, you’ll find that they may be receptive to how we can create a more diverse community.”
Other than friends and campaign volunteers, Cooper’s pool party event on Sunday attracted all older residents he met while knocking doors or through other events.
Cooper’s Millennial message comes from experience. The first-time political candidate has a degree from Vassar College and a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins but he lives with his parents while trying to find an affordable place of his own. He’s also looking for a suitable job in public health, though he’s taken to full-time campaigning before next June’s Gubernatorial Primary.
He said he’s experienced in health care policy for all age groups. Education and transportation are also parts of his platform.
He’s one of four announced candidates for an what’s anticipated to be two open Delegate seats. And now, he has competition from within the Millennial set. Kevin Walling, a 27-year-old political consultant, made his campaign official over the weekend.
Hrant Jamgochian, who narrowly lost out on a Delegate spot in 2010, and Marc Korman, a longtime Montgomery County Democratic Party member and former Capitol Hill staffer, are the other announced Democratic candidates. Some expect as many as 15 or 20 people to run.
Still, Cooper is hoping his youth serves as an advantage. He said he would work to form an internship program that would guarantee all 18-26-year olds in the state with 18 months of employment with contractors on state infrastructure projects that suit their educational backgrounds.
“I think that Millennials need to be reached out to,” Cooper said. “I’d like to be somebody who’s accessible to Millennials, who can pull them in and let them know that it will work for them. They need to make their voices heard.”