A 17-year-old junior at Oak Ridge High School is running for Oak Ridge City Council, and he said he wants to represent the city’s youth on the seven-member body.
Mark LeNoir, the first candidate to publicly announce a City Council campaign this year, at least to Oak Ridge Today, will turn 18 on October 5, about one month before the November 8 election.
On Wednesday, LeNoir said he kicked off his campaign a few weeks ago at a banquet for Youth Leadership of Oak Ridge at the DoubleTree Hotel.
“My biggest thing is that there is a lot of unrepresented youth in this town,” LeNoir said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “It’s kind of stayed on the same path for the last 20 years. I want to get change happening.”
LeNoir said he wants more cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy, including possibly having the city take over the American Museum of Science and Energy, or AMSE, and Clark Center Park.
“I want to build a more mutual relationship with them that benefits both parties and promotes growth for everyone involved,” he said.
LeNoir, who is planning a career in public service or public policy, attended a week-long Boys State camp at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville last week, when he and other boys his age learned about local and state government.
LeNoir said he also wants to promote Oak Ridge teachers and schools.
“Some of my teachers have been the best influences on me,” LeNoir said. “I am really pro-teacher. They are some of the best people in Oak Ridge. They are some of the best workers we have to offer.”
He said cuts to the arts program at Oak Ridge High School that were approved during school budget deliberations this year will put more pressure on the remaining teachers. Restoring what has been cut will help everyone, LeNoir said.
Asked what city challenges he’d like to try to address, LeNoir said Oak Ridge has many old so-called “A,” “B,” and “C” houses that are empty and rotting. It’s in the city’s best interest to demolish them and rebuild them, LeNoir said, and help bring in a younger workforce that works in Oak Ridge but lives in Knoxville.
LeNoir is on an Advanced Placement, or AP, track at Oak Ridge High School, and he is an officer for the International Relations Club and works with the Youth Leadership of Oak Ridge class. He was on the track team but is not anymore. On his campaign website, LeNoir said he is also a lifeguard and Boy Scout.
“I have always loved this city and I have always wanted to serve it, whether that be by being a lifeguard…or eventually running for City Council,” LeNoir said.
The high school junior has already been out campaigning for this fall’s election. He said he’s had a lot of support from a mix of people, including students, teachers, and people in the community.
He’s started collecting signatures for his City Council run, but hasn’t turned in his petition to the Anderson County Election Commission yet.
LeNoir said he has been to a few City Council meetings and follows the news about what the seven-member body is doing.
If they seek re-election, the incumbents in the November 8 election would be Council members Trina Baughn, Charlie Hensley, and Chuck Hope.
It’s not the first campaign by a 17-year-old in Oak Ridge. Jimmy Bouchard ran for Oak Ridge City Council as an ORHS senior in 2009, and he turned 18 before the June 2 election that year.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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