LOGANSPORT, Ind. (WLFI) — Most 19-year-olds are only concerned about what college they will attend, but one from this city of about 17,750 has bigger plans.
Jonathan Nelms is running for a spot on the Logansport City Council. He is running for one of two at-large seats against incumbent Matt Meagher and Logansport native Jake LeDonne.
“Earlier this year, I was thinking about it and I was like, ‘Well, why can’t I? What really is stopping me from doing it other than the perception that I can’t?'” he said. “You just have to believe in yourself and do it.”
Nelms said he got his high school diploma through a more alternative route. He passed the Indiana high school equivalency test. He said he had complications from a concussion that made the test the best route for him to finish that chapter of his education. Nelms may not have many degrees to his name, but he said he has all he needs to serve his Cass County community.
“The only thing you absolutely need is a drive for the people, which I have,” he said. “I love this city; I feel like I can represent the people who I am elected to represent. That’s all that I feel should qualify you.”
At first, he asked to work on Logansport mayor candidate Chris Martin’s campaign. He said he wanted to learn more about the ins and outs of campaigning before he tried to start his own. But after talking with Martin and sharing his ambition, Nelms said, Martin gave him the nudge he needed to put is name in the hat for City Council this year. Nelms said he has gotten good feedback from people he has talked to about his plans.
“So far the reaction is very positive,” he said. “They think that we need younger people.”
In June, Nelms got the chance to attend an event where he learned about the do’s and don’ts of campaigning from those who had done it before. It was there he met a role model of his, Gov. Eric Holcomb.
“It was an incredibly exciting moment for me,” he said. “I just told him my name and told him what I was running for and he looked at me and I’m, like, I’m 19.”
He said the governor got more excited for him once he learned his age.
“Having the person who is the highest office in the state believing in me running for this office, not caring about my age, even getting more excited that I was running at a young age,” Nelms said. “I was already excited but getting that encouragement, I’m like ‘Let’s get this going.'”
Nelms said he also looks up to former President Ronald Reagan and his parents.
“My parents are always inspiring me and never telling me no you can’t do this,” he said.
Lisa Nelms, Jonathan’s mom, said she has seen this desire to serve in her son since he was a kid.
“Since he was in elementary school I’ve heard nothing from his teachers but he’s a leader, he’s a leader,” she said.
She said she believes our future lies with the next generation.
“The younger people have to come in and they have to take over and they have to make a difference,” she said. “I think he’s coming in with a lot of new ideas.”
Jonathan said being on City Council is all about dealing with finances. He wants to help bring jobs to Logansport and make sure that the city is fiscally responsible.
“We all have to pay taxes out of our hard-earned paychecks, and I want to make sure it’s being spent in the right ways that benefits the people who live here,” he said.
Jonathan said he works at the Cass County Family YMCA with kids in summer camp. He also worked for a while as a substitute teacher in the local school district.
“Getting to walk in and see them and see the energy they have,” he said. “This energy could be used to better America in the future.”
Jonathan said he also hopes that he can encourage his peers to get out and exercise their right to vote. He is running as a Republican, but he is ready to work with people of all beliefs and opinions. He said he values listening to people and their concerns. Both the candidates he is running against are Democrats.
“Abraham Lincoln said, ‘A house divided (against itself,) cannot stand,'” Jonathan said. “If I win in November, I’m still on a Democratic City Council. They are still Logansport residents, they are still Americans and they would be colleagues, so I would be more than happy to work with each and every one of them.”
“I’m just proud of my son and I can’t wait to see where he goes and what happens,” Lisa Nelms said.
Nelms said he plans to attend the Ivy Tech Community College campus in Logansport to start his higher education. Election Day will be Nov. 5.