Next step: Waterford

By Ali Armstrong

A young politician in the making, senior Justin Clarke is an Oakland University student that has been making the headlines.

The political science major has just begun his campaign for the November school board elections.

Starting in November, citizens will vote on Waterford school board members in 16 different districts that spread over nine cities. Clarke is running against 14 other candidates to represent the Waterford School District, and there are only three spots available.

If he is elected, the 22-year-old OU student will be the youngest member on the school board.

“I think it’s great that students like Justin run for public office,” said Paul Kubicek, Clarke’s Model United Nations club advisor. “It demonstrates a commitment to public service and a passion for trying to make a positive impact in the community.”

Clarke is the first from his family to pursue a career within the school district. His mother works for the Oakland Intermediate School District, but is not involved with the Waterford school district.

Clarke recently held his campaign kick-off party, which raised money to support his campaign.

“When there are 14 people running, you have to get your name out there,” said Clarke.  “It’s all about name recognition in a small community.”

A 2006 graduate from Waterford Kettering High School, Clarke is devoted to this election and to giving back to his schools.

“Leaving high school and coming to OU with 18 college credits, I really appreciate what they did for me. I want to return the favor and give back to the schools,” said Clarke.

When it comes to Waterford’s school district, Clarke has many different ideas.

“I want to revitalize the school district,” said Clarke. “I believe that some of these cuts need to be made to benefit education, but there are a lot of cuts that don’t need to be made and money to be saved. Refinancing the district is the key project that I would like to work on.”

Responsibilities on campus include the role as president of the Model United Nations club and involvement with the Model European Union, both of which helped him become more involved with local politics.

“My passion is international politics, but local politics are a lot more effective than international politics,” said Clarke.

Graduating in the spring with a degree in political science, Clarke plans on coming back to OU for graduate school in public administration.

As far as bringing his campaign to the OU campus, Clarke has not really thought about it.

“I would like to do an on-campus phone bank, but I need donations,” said Clarke.

In the past, The North Oakland Democratic Club and Oakland County Democratic Party have provided Clarke with available space and phone lines.

Clarke said he currently would like to stay involved with his local community by representing the school district, but hopes to one day become endorsed by the Waterford Democratic Club.

“Justin has shown a lot of energy and enthusiasm for Model United Nations, which he is president of, and I’m sure that this will spill over into his campaign as well,” Kubicek said.

For the time being, Clarke is planning to focus on the local community and leave the bigger politics for a later time.

“Right now, I just want to stay with the school district. I want to represent the people and how their education should be,” Clarke said.

Elections for the Waterford School District will take place on Nov. 2.