UT Martin student John Lankford has always dreamed of being in politics.
It looks as if that dream is coming true. Lankford is one of 12 young people in the state to be elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Lankford will be representing the John Kerry campaign at the Boston convention on July 26-29.
“I think it’s awesome. When you take it back and put it in perspective, I am representing my state for the democratic nominee as president,” Lankford said.
Lankford’s involvement in politics is exactly what the Democratic Party is wanting. Chairman of the party, Randy Button, says that the youth in this country are concerned about their future.
“Young people are concerned about getting a job when they finish school and paying down the enormous deficit George Bush is creating. We are seeing the biggest surge in young people coming to the Democratic Party in decades,” Button says.
But, being involved in politics isn’t a new feat for Lankford. A native of Henry County, Lankford has been involved in the local party since the age of 15, and helped pass out campaign literature when he was only 10 to help elect his uncle as county commissioner.
Currently, Lankford is majoring in business administration at UTM. Even while carrying a course load, he has put in many hours during campaigns for Governor Phil Bredesen and candidate for the Senate, Bob Clement.
The climbing of the political ladder continues. Last year, Lankford served as an intern in the House Education Committee and plans on returning as a bill clerk in the future.
Lankford says that his best on-the-job training came last year when he and other students trudged door to door in a highly contested Senate race in East Tennessee counties. The seat was left vacant when former Sen. Lincoln Davis, D-Pall Mall, was elected to Congress.
“The state party sent us to Kingston to get out the vote for the Democratic nominee, Tommy Kilby,” Lankford said. Lankford believes that the aggressive grassroots drive won that day for Sen. Kilby.
Lankford can remember his first experience with politics. “I was seven years old and saw a national convention on television. Of course, I didn’t know what it was. When mom told me what it was, I told her that I wanted to do that some day,” Lankford said.
Growing up, Lankford has had some influential people as political role models. As role models, Lankford named 8th District Congressman John Tanner, D-Union City; state Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden; and Henry County native Joe Hill, veteran field representative for the late U.S. Rep. Ed Jones and now Tanner.
“Those Democratic leaders have always been prompt in helping me with any problems I have,” Lankford said. Lankford’s all time favorite politicians would be President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and former President Bill Clinton, his favorite president.
Lankford’s political resume is also brightened by his involvement on campus. He is president of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and has been president of College Democrats. Lankford has also served as a senator on the Student Government Association.
A regular on the dean’s list and a member of Phi Kappa Phi honorary society, Lankford will continue to bring much to the table for the Democratic Party.
Lankford thinks that the November elections are going to send President Bush back to Texas. But even he admits that the process won’t be easy.
“All young people and all democrats have to make it out to the poles this November. We can change this country, but we have to work together to do it.”