Young people in the District such as Marcus Goodwin are no longer asking their elders for permission to participate in the political life of the city — they are doing it and making waves in the process.
“I think many young people are disenchanted with politics as it is now and want to make changes to people live better lives,” said Goodwin, president of D.C. Young Democrats. “We are an on-demand generation and we want things to move forward quickly. We don’t want to wait in line or wait for our turn, as some older people suggest.”
A November 2015 study, “D.C. Millennial Population Age 18-34: Then and Now,” found that 35 percent of the District’s population consists of millennials, with the non-Hispanic White segment the fastest growing and people of color in decline.
The study also found that millennials in the District are well-educated, with over 50 percent possessing bachelor degrees.
Goodwin leads his organization with the 2020 elections on the horizon. In 2020, the presidency, about a third of U.S. Senate seats and all U.S. House of Representative positions are up for grabs.
In the District, the delegate to the U.S. Congress will be up for election, as well as two at-large and the Wards 2, 4, 7 and 8 seats on the D.C. Council, D.C. Board of Education and all advisory neighborhood commissioner posts.
The District’s political terrain recently got a shake when Ward 8 D.C. State Board of Education member Markus Batchelor, 26, announced on Sept. 19 his candidacy for the independent at-large seat in 2020.
“I’m excited about making my case to the residents of the District every day for the next 14 months — the case that we need bold leadership on the D.C. Council, with both experience and perspective needed to urgently address the real needs of our communities,” said Batchelor, who served as a commissioner for single-member district 8C04, before his election to the District’s education board in 2016. “This campaign is people-powered, no corporate donations; no PAC money. I’m an independent voice for the people of Washington, D.C., and from health care and education to public safety and government accountability, we’ll work together to make D.C. a city that works for all of us.”
Batchelor seeks the council position occupied by David Grosso (I-At Large), who hasn’t said publicly whether he will seek reelection.
The ward council races presently consist of several millennials. In Ward 2, Jordan Grossman, Patrick Kennedy, Daniel Hernandez and Yilin Zhang are millennial candidates seeking to replace embattled Council member Jack Evans while Ward 4 Council member Brandon Todd will face fellow millennial Janeese Lewis George.
Ward 7 commissioners Anthony Lorenzo Green and Veda Rasheed and community activist Kelvin Brown are among the millennials who want Vincent Gray’s seat, while Trayon White (D-Ward 8) may have to face another millennial, commissioner Mike Austin, for re-election.
Darrell Gaston, an ANC commissioner aiming to replace Batchelor on the D.C. State Board of Education, said millennials sometimes aren’t taken seriously by older adults in the political process and that bothers him.
“I think too often elders say we need to engage young people but then they don’t come through,” Gaston said. “Young people need to just step up. Not only for the council but for the State Board of Education and even civic association president.”
Goodwin, who challenged D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large) in the June 2016 Democratic primary, said the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida ignited his generation.
“That really got us going and the March for Our Lives that was youth-managed played a key role,” he said. “It seems that young people are getting involved in the political process and I see that trend continuing in 2020.”