‘If I’m able to change anything, I want to do my hometown first’ says teen vying for parish council seat
IBERVILLE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Besides figuring out a complicated mathematical equations and wrapping up classwork, the biggest concern for most teenagers is figuring out their future.
“I’m actually not even ready to graduate, but it’s fine,” Raheem Pierce said.
Pierce already has 15 years down the line figured out.
“I might run for judge at some point.”
That comes as no surprise actually, and it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what’s next.
“My main thing is accessibility and transparency,” Pierce added. “We need people who will attempt to help us.”
Pierce, an 18-year-old senior at Plaquemine High School, is running for a government position, but on a larger scale.
“It will be good being a voice for the voiceless,” he said. “I knew I was going to end up running eventually in my life, but I never thought about doing it this early.”
Pierce says running for office will give him “an opportunity to help everyone thrive instead of just survive.”
He’s running to fill the District 6 Iberville Parish Council seat. When you hear a teen is running for a sought-after parish council seat, naturally, the first question is why? Pierce says it’s the lack of representation in his area that encouraged him to step into the political ring.
“I’ve also said, ‘Why wait until I’m about to retire or retire to try and change things when I can start at 18?’”
The teen says he’s been thinking about being an elected official for years, but it wasn’t until 2018 that he decided to officially run for council.
Gina LoBue, principal of Plaquemine High School, wasn’t shocked to hear Pierce’s political aspirations. In fact, she’s quite proud.
“So I’ve kind of had my eye on him over the years with his leadership abilities and what he’s doing within our community,” LoBue said.
Pierce already holds a few leadership positions at school. He’s class president and the Student Government Association parliamentarian, so that lands him in the principal’s office. LoBue says he’s constantly scheduling meetings with her and comes with an agenda in hand, ready to make a compromise for his peers.
“He’s very mild-mannered,” LoBue said. “So that makes it easy to have a conversation where you can come to a compromise even though sometimes you might have differing opinions to what the results need to be.”
And when he’s not thinking about school or running for office, he’s working the family business, RD&R Snack Shack, a popular stop in the neighborhood. It’s also where he connects with the community, the people he hopes to one day serve.
“I have all the faith in the world for you,” one customer said.
Pierce says he thinks quite a majority of people support him already; he’s getting calls to make things happen.
“It’s simple stuff. The parish cut trees and left them in the ditches,” Pierce said. “They think I’m dependable. They know I’m dependable, but it’s just showing. I like it actually when you have a passion for serving people, it doesn’t bother me.”
“As educators, we see that on a daily basis, so it’s really exciting when a student decides that they want to get involved and showcase that to where the world can see what we’re seeing,” LoBue said. “He feels the opportunity is now. The courage it takes to really see that, grasp it, and go for it is profound.”
Pierce is letting his work speak for itself. He’s already learned a thing or two as class president.
“You can’t please everybody,” he said with a smile. “I try, but it’s probably impossible.”
Pierce says he plans to attend Southern University to study public administration. He hopes to attend law school, and at some point, become a judge.
“If I’m able to change anything, I want to do my hometown first. I want to start in my hometown,” he said.
Pierce says he’s heard of at least four other people interested in the position. Qualifying begins in August.
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