An article about one of Leann’s nephews, 21, elected Mayor of his small hometown. (He wanted to run when he was 19 and was told he was too young.) He has a strong faith in Christ and loves to share the gospel, so comfortable with it that it was his topic of choice for a 1-hr presentation & questions at a recent working job interview with a large company. Anyway, just wanted to share and thought you might like it
Caledonia’s youngest-ever mayor poised to make history
Erik Daily, Lee Newspapers
The new mayor of Caledonia, the city’s youngest ever, is 21-year-old UW-La Crosse student Josh Gran.
March 04, 2015 5:00 pm • Ryan Stotts For the Houston County News(0) Comments
When most young adults come out of college, they feel lucky to have a job.
For 21-year-old Josh Gran, a Caledonia native and University of Wisconsin-La Crosse senior, it’s the same, but he’s the only one leaving school to become the youngest mayor ever in his hometown.
The age thing isn’t a big deal for Gran, but that’s thanks in large part to his mindset.
“If you’re willing to put in the time, do the work, be good at your job, I don’t think it matters if you’re 18 or 80,” Gran said.
A lot of what got Gran elected, apart from running virtually unopposed (a last-minute write-in candidate couldn’t best him), is a two-fold mixture of passion he feels for politics and for Caledonia itself.
“I love Caledonia,” he said. “I’m proud to say I’m from here. I want to see the city do great.”
As for politics, his passion is tempered by what he sees happening at a local and national level.
“Just the direction the whole country is going hasn’t been great for me,” Gran said.
Now that he’s assumed office, he said, he’d like to see some basic principles restored to politics, things like common sense and “spending what you have.”
Over the past decade, in particular the last five years, Gran’s interest in politics has grown. He’s been more keenly aware of what’s been going on around him, and he parlayed that interest and knowledge into a bid for the mayor’s seat.
The way he saw it, his small hometown of nearly 3,000 people presented a better shot to enter into the political fray than a bigger city.
“Growing up in a small town, everyone kind of knows who you are,” Gran said.
There’s a caution there, he admitted. While you’re more likely to get the opportunity to serve in a small town, it comes down to a matter of trust with the voters. After all, he’ll be learning on a very public curve, and if anything goes wrong?
“The whole town’s gonna know,” he said.
The decision to run wasn’t done without consulting his parents. They’ve been supportive, Gran said, because they’ve raised him to stand by his beliefs and be independent.
“We really didn’t encourage him or discourage him,” said Gran’s father, Mike. “It’s kind of been how we’ve raised our kids. We just taught him right from wrong growing up.”
That included having books such as Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” on hand around the house while Gran was growing up, as well as the Bible.
“Josh is humble,” he said, “and willing to ask questions and ask for help because he’s young.”
Even though Mike and his youngest of three kids have had a lot of spirited discussions about politics, it’s hard for him to be too sanguine about his newest mayor.
“I’m a little worried,” Mike said. “Politics in general are not my thing.”
Still, long-time Caledonia residents, those who are “influential,” have told Mike they have high regard for his son, considering Josh to be an upstanding young man.
“That’s been kind of comforting to me,” he said.
One of those on hand to help is Robert Burns, who served as Caledonia’s mayor for 17 years prior to Gran, and who is now on a four-year term on the city’s five-person city council (the mayor votes, as well as the four councilors).
“I think he’s a fine young man, very capable,” Burns said. “There’s a learning curve, of course. But he’s intelligent, and he’ll learn.”
Gran will be facing the same thing most mayors do, Burns said — the fiscal management of the city, keeping taxes low while still providing the services residents need.
There’s also the issue of the city’s swimming pool, which is almost 60-years-old, and how best to keep it operational. A recent $1.9 million bond referendum failed, but voters still seem keen on figuring out how to keep the pool.
Since the council and city staff work as a team, Burns said, Gran won’t be without support. He also has something else.
“Josh definitely has a fresh perspective, that’s for sure,” Burns said.
For Gran’s part, he said the city is in great financial shape, and as for anything else that comes up, he’ll stand on his principles. He brings with him a strong desire to use common sense, but also a faith rooted in his Christian upbringing.
“I think that’s the most important thing in the world,” Gran said. “It all goes back to the Bible.”
He encourages people to engage with him about his beliefs, and he said he’s eager for as much dialogue as possible.
“I think it’s important that people get involved who have strong beliefs,” Gran said.