Younger candidates eye the state legislature

Millennials starting to seek careers in politics

Laura Ashley Lamm—
N.C. House District 9Democratic candidate Brian Farkas (right) works polls on November 4

GREENVILLE — The seats of the N.C. General Assembly are traditionally occupied with members of Generation X or the Baby Boomer generation. As millennials rise to be the largest population of adults in North Carolina, the younger working generation is beginning to step up and try to give fresh faces to the current legislative make up.At 29, Brian Farkas, a native of Pitt County, is running on the Democratic ticket for House District 9 against Dr. Greg Murphy, the Republican incumbent, in this November’s election. “I’m very blessed to have the opportunity to run and represent my district. At my age, not a lot of people get this opportunity. I have worked hard in my 20s to be able to offer myself in this form of service,” said Farkas. “I’ve always felt called to public service though I never knew what that was going to look like, but when I saw what was happening at the state level this opportunity presented itself.”Of the more than 318 million Americans, a staggering 83.1 million are millennials. Nationwide, this age demographic of young adults ranging in age from 18 to 35, is the largest generation in the country having surpassed the baby boomers.Carolina Demography, a consulting service at UNC — Chapel Hill, has determined by the end of 2016, the millennial generation will surpass Generation X, the children of baby boomers born in the mid-1960s to early 1980s, to become the largest adult population in North Carolina.”The average age of the state legislature is significantly higher than me, and I’m excited to drive that average down. We have whole swabs of our population that aren’t represented because of that age gap,” said Farkas. Farkas feels that understanding the millennial population can help the legislature represent and target issues that have a large impact on this demographic. “For 20-year-olds and early 30-year-olds, we have people sitting on a lot of college debt making college affordability an issue in our state,” said Farkas. “There are not many voices in our state legislature that can speak to those things and create state solutions to lower the cost of education and keep college affordable.”He added, “This is the generation coming straight out of college and into the workforce. Instead of having money to put towards a mortgage, they are paying off student loans. I have a student loan myself so I know what that is like.”Farkas received a B.A. in Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a Master of Public Administration from the UNC School of Government in Chapel Hill. Prior to joining JKF Architecture, the family business started by his father, Farkas worked for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “I have a unique mix of public and private sector experience that lets me hit the ground running. My father started his small business on our kitchen table back in 1998. Small businesses are a large part of Pitt County’s economy and should be supported by our government,” said Farkas. Education, small business, job creation, and the economy of Eastern North Carolina are values and issues Farkas has driven home to potential voters and supporters. “Job creation East of I-95 is a priority. Attracting and growing jobs here is a different animal than it is in Raleigh or Charlotte. What happens in Edgecombe County at its industrial site will benefit Pitt County and vice versa. We shouldn’t be losing automobile industries to other states,” said Farkas. Age is just a number to Farkas, but one he sees as an advantage. He is ready to serve and has the drive to work for all of Pitt County’s populations. “Being young is an advantage. I have the energy, hustle, and absolute strength to work for Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated parties,” he said. “I have an open-door policy with anyone who wants to talk.”