At age 19, many college guys are more concerned with perfecting their keg stand than working to restore trust in their local governments.
But Frankie Dakin isn't your average college kid. The Rhodes College junior ran for Millington city alderman this year and beat out incumbent Don Lowry. Now 20, Dakin plans to use his office to rebuild citizens' trust in Millington city government, which he feels was lost following the bribery scandal involving former Millington mayor Richard Hodges earlier this year.
Dakin officially takes office in January, and he'll be balancing his alderman duties with finishing his major in political economy at Rhodes. But he's no stranger to balancing schoolwork with leadership positions: He was student government president and captain of the football team at Millington Central High School. He served as recruitment and philanthropy chair for the Sigma Nu fraternity at Rhodes and as president pro-tempore of Rhodes' alternative spring break program.
— Bianca Phillips
Flyer: Did people take you seriously when you announced you were going to run?
Frankie Dakin: My friends and family supported me right away. They knew that whenever I latch my teeth onto something, I try my hardest. My friends, of course, got a kick out of it. I went directly to the Millington Star. I knew they would put my story out there and let people know that the 19-year-old running for office wasn't some kind of joke.
How did you convert the critics?
We started the campaign knowing that we couldn't count on any votes if we didn't shake their hands personally. We attempted to knock on every single door in Millington. We registered more than 300 people, mostly young people.
How did you target young voters?
My treasurer and some other friends organized a pool party. We got about 60 voter registrations of young people ages 18 to 22 [at that party]. With everything going on in the world, young people are some of the most dissatisfied people. We like to see each other getting involved.
What role did social media play in your campaign?
We used Facebook advertising. People were saying it was the first time they'd ever seen Millington political ads on Facebook. And then we started to see other alderman candidates pop up on Facebook too.
How do you compare in age to other aldermen?
There's nobody younger than 40 on the new board, and on the outgoing board, I don't think there was anybody younger than 50. That brings me to a good point. The new board, as a whole, has really changed. We have so much more diversity now. One of the stories not being covered is that we had our first African-American man elected to the board, and we had our first Asian-American alderman elected.
What's your platform for improving Millington?
I want to build trust in the government. Once [citizens] have that trust, they'll start participating, and that's when we'll start seeing the growth we really need.
Obviously, economic development is huge. There's a lot that cities can do to help small business owners and entrepreneurs actually create jobs and not just move them around.
Right now, I'm working with a skate park group in Millington, where a group of citizens have organized around bringing a skate park to Millington and funding it through donations.
How will you balance college with your board duties?
Meetings are only once a month. But I work every day doing a variety of things, and I haven't even taken office yet. School won't suffer. My social life, maybe a little bit, but it really ties into my education and gives me an opportunity.