Kent State Tuscarawas student balances school with a political position

Eric+Harmon+poses+for+a+photo.

Eric Harmon poses for a photo.

Brynn Pennell

Most 19-year-olds could barely imagine holding some type of political office.

Not Eric Harmon.  

The Kent State Tuscarawas freshman is currently the youngest elected official in the state of Ohio, serving as the councilman-at-large member for Uhrichsville City Council.

The 2017 Claymont High School graduate announced his intention to seek office his senior year, three weeks before the deadline to get his name on the ballot.

“I was approached by a few different people telling me a seat was open, as one of the previous council members was going to retire after over 20 years of service,” Harmon said. “I thought a lot about the opportunity, and eventually I just did it and ran.”

Harmon’s interest in politics was sparked by the American Legion Buckeye Boys State, an eight-day summer camp teaching young men about city, country and state government.

Despite Harmon’s young age, he received a lot of positive feedback throughout the campaigning process.

“I have always been someone who takes themselves seriously, and I think that kind of got a serious reaction out of others,” Harmon said.

As of now, Harmon’s main goal in office is to bring new businesses to Uhrichsville.

“Right now, what we have to do is attract new businesses to come in and employ our citizens,” Harmon said. “If we can get new businesses to come in, we can provide more jobs to our citizens, and that is more income tax for us. With more income tax, we are able to get that money and put it toward our city services.”

Harmon’s future goals in office include paving roads, boosting infrastructure and expanding Uhrichsville’s city services for the police, fire and street departments.

As a student and elected official, Harmon hopes to gain more insight into politics and be able to collaborate well with a different age group.

“It has been a little bit of a challenge (working with older people) but we have been able to break through the challenge and are able to work together and get things done,” Harmon said.

In addition to serving on council, Harmon is a full-time integrated social studies major at Kent State Tuscarawas.

“Kent Tuscarawas is a great resource for our community, and it provides a quality education for a very reasonable price, and I was able to do that while serving on Uhrichsville council,” Harmon said.

As for Harmon’s future in politics, holding a higher position in office isn’t out of the picture. For now, his main focus is on the citizens of Uhrichsville.

“As of right now, I am focused on my work as a council member in Uhrichsville,” Harmon said. “I will admit, I haven’t closed the door on seeking higher office, although my main priority right now is focusing on Uhrichsville and what we can do to make a difference.”

To young students with high hopes and big aspirations, do something you’re passionate about, Harmon said.

“Be willing to be compassionate to other people, and treat others the way you want to be treated,” Harmon said. “Find something you care about, get good at it and don’t forget where you came from.”

Brynn Pennell is the regional campuses reporter. Contact her at [email protected]