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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

When I first heard that class of 2015 Lockport High School graduate Frank Allen was running for mayor of Lockport, I have to admit that I panicked. Our city faces a laundry list of issues that require some steady leadership. I did not think, and still do not think, that someone with absolutely no direct experience in city government will help solve our problems.

After doing some research on the subject, I have come to respect Frank Allen a little more. I still would never vote for someone so inexperienced in city government at a time like this, but I would like to see him run for alderman and spearhead the youth movement at the Municipal Building that our city needs.

I appreciate that Frank Allen has spent his entire life in and around the Municipal Building. His father gained him access to the inner-workings of the city government, but young Frank never had to actually make decisions that affected the entire city. The pressure of keeping the city from going bankrupt was never weighing on his shoulders. It is one thing to watch government from the sidelines and mingle with the players, but it is quite another thing to actually get in there and throw your weight around.

When the Democratic Party challenged Allen’s petition to run for mayor, I have to say that I was not surprised. Another thing that only watching politics does not really prepare you for is being the target of one of the most powerful political organizations in the county. Unfortunately, it is just the way that politics works. These are the things you experience when you work your way up the ranks.

I discussed the whole thing with Lockport mayoral candidate Roger Sherrie, and he said:

“Running a city the size of Lockport, with the challenges it faces, is a lot more complicated than just filing petitions to run for mayor. You better be able to do one correctly if you want to do the other. It makes no difference whether you are young, old or middle aged.”

What Mr. Sherrie says should be taken as good advice for young Frank. I am not going to call Allen idealistic, because I get the impression that he is more than that. But I can see that he still does not grasp the entire spectrum of how politics works. If you don’t attend to those details, then they will come back to haunt you. That would be city politics lesson number one for young Frank.

With all of that being said, I still don’t think he should give up his political aspirations. Even with his pedigree, I think aiming right away for the mayor’s office was too ambitious. But I really respect his desire to run as the head of his own party and turn the tables on the two big political parties that have caused so many problems for so many years.

So to young Frank Allen I would say this…

Don’t give up, kid. This city desperately needs intelligent young people like you to start establishing a bright future. Your ideas may be a bit na├»ve in some ways, but they are a great start towards stirring up the political debates that this city desperately needs.

Keep fighting the political status quo and keep doing things your own way. If you run for alderman and win, maybe in the next election your political party can have one or two more young Lockportians on the ballot. With your ideas and your energy, your future is extremely bright in this city. Don’t throw it away now by giving in to the very political parties that have disillusioned you and everyone else. Keep fighting and keep going.

I would recommend that you go to college and get a degree that fits your political aspirations. You may even want to consider establishing a successful business of some type in Lockport and use that as the vehicle for doing good for the city.

Politics is a marathon and not a sprint. You may have got off to a false start, but I really hope that you put your feet back in the blocks and get ready for the starting gun again. We need more kids like you and you cannot let the old establishment scare you away. If you are going to make change in this world, you have to fight against what is already in place. It takes time, but it can be very rewarding when you finally succeed.

Don’t stop now, kid. You should just be getting started.

George N Root III is a Lockport resident and someone who has been waiting for the younger generation to step up. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or email him at

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