By David Pflughoeft Special to OnMilwaukee.com Published Jul 12, 2008 at 5:04 AM
The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OnMilwaukee.com, its advertisers or editorial staff.

The political realm is a place where old men sit around, argue constantly and devise rules that rarely work. At least, that's the view of many of the younger generation.

Teens, like most of the country, seem either totally disinterested or bitterly divided when it comes to politics. Whenever politics or any election is brought up in within a group of teens, the discussion ends with several people bailing on the conversation, while those that do participate end up angry and yelling. In my group of friends, we have limited any discussion of politics to the boundaries of the school lunch table because people often get too worked up. Based upon the conversations I've been a part of, it seems that few young people have aspirations of breaking into politics.

But there are a few young people challenging that trend and working extremely hard to become part of the government with the desire to make changes. One such person and candidate is Randy Melchert. Melchert, 22, is running for the Wisconsin State Assembly seat in the 24th district, which includes Butler, Germantown, Richfield and Menomonee Falls.

Melchert finished high school at the age of 16 and purchased a struggling radio station that broadcasts in the Quad Cities at the age of 21. Using energy- and cost-efficient ideas, Melchert turned the AM station into one of the more successful ones in the region. In college, he worked on a congressional campaign for Jim Demint in 2006. He also won the Varsity Debate National Championship, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and completed his Master of Arts at Trinity International University this year.

Earlier this year, when Republican incumbent Sue Jeskewitz announced that she wouldn't run for re-election, Melchert decided he wanted to run for her seat.

"I have always enjoyed politics and debate, and this was the perfect opportunity to run," he says. "We have an absolutely beautiful state, but there are many people who are leaving. The high taxes are making us lose companies, jobs and families."

While Melchert has many strong ideas he'd like to put in place for our state, some may consider his age a problem.

"My age may be a factor in that many will be surprised by how young I am for a politician. However, I'm old enough to vote, be drafted, etc. and I'm ready for a challenge," he says.

Melchert encourages other young people to become involved in politics.

"Too many people don't care -- we need to get people interested again, and we can do that by providing environments that welcome discussion. One issue that teens should certainly pay attention to is taxes and how much gets taken from every paycheck they get."

It's refreshing to see a 22-year-old like Randy Melchert running for office. It provides us a first glimpse at the future of politics as my generation begins the move towards running the country in the coming years. The primary for this election is Tuesday, Sept. 9.

David Pflughoeft Special to OnMilwaukee.com
David Pflughoeft is a 17-year-old junior at Menomonee Falls High School, where he plays football, baseball and basketball. He also is passionate about video games and writing. His stories have appeared in newspapers across the country.