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Dover Post
  • Polytech student learns the ins and outs of politics at Youth in Government Conference

  • Polytech junior Austin Auen put in his gubernatorial bid and began campaigning about five months ago. Auen’s bid was not made to unseat Gov. Jack Markell, rather it was made to run for youth governor, the top spot in the Delaware YMCA’s Youth in Government program.
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  • Polytech junior Austin Auen put in his gubernatorial bid and began campaigning about five months ago. Auen’s bid was not made to unseat Gov. Jack Markell, rather it was made to run for youth governor, the top spot in the Delaware YMCA’s Youth in Government program.
    “I wanted to enhance the program,” Auen said. “As governor, I wanted to be able to help more people find their voice, like the people here have.”
    The duties of a youth governor involve presiding over the legislative session during the Youth in Government Conference, signing bills and working with youth legislators, but outside the yearly conference the youth governor participates in community service projects and works with the real state legislature.
    “At the end of each conference the sitting youth governor presents the bills that passed and we present them to the real legislature,” Auen said.
    The 17-year-old got involved with Youth in Government as an eighth grader and has slowly taken on more leadership roles over the years, he said. He began campaigning for the leadership position in October by creating a Facebook page and traveling to speak to other delegations.
    Auen campaigned during the Youth in Government Conference, which was held at Legislative Hall over the weekend, but in the end was defeated.
    “Though I didn’t win I’m fully dedicated to the program and hope to help in any way I can,” he said.
    Even with a loss at the polls, Auen was still able to represent his delegation by serving as a member of the House of Representatives and by chairing the health and human services committee. Topics discussed during the conference ranged from litigating real court cases to debating proposed tax increases.
    “We discuss things that real state legislators would be too afraid to even try and discuss in an election year,” Auen said. “I hope them seeing us discuss it will make them want to discuss it.”
    Gov. Markell kicked off the Youth in Government Conference Friday morning by addressing the delegates. Markell stated that the work done at Youth in Government could have an impact down the road.
    “Before very long, they’re going to be making the decisions,” Markell said. “The more exposed they get to how the system works the better off we’re all going to be, and I think in the mean time they can have a big impact. There are enough of them that when they speak up we have to listen.”
    Despite his loss during the Youth in Government Conference, politics are still a very real possibility in Auen’s future. He currently interns for the House of Representatives, an opportunity which began while he was helping state representatives campaign during the 2012 elections. He frequently works with Reps. Andria Bennett (D-Dover) and Trey Paradee (D-West Dover).
    Page 2 of 2 - “I love politics,” Auen said. “It’s a big thing for me. I feel like politics is a great way to be able to see a noticeable change in your community by working with the people around you, so that they can be the best they can be and your community can be the best it can be.”
    Auen wasn’t the only local student to represent the Dover YMCA delegation. St. Thomas More junior Patrick Stancliff served as secretary of the senate during the conference.
    “I learned to speak to crowds; I’m a lot more self-confident,” Stancliff said. “As secretary of the Senate, I keep track of time and of amendments and additions to bills. It’s taught me that while people may disagree they can almost always work out their differences.”

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