Gavin Griffin for Titusville City Council
College freshman believes 'there is no minimum age to do what is right'
Eighteen-year-old Gavin Griffin has entered the race for a seat on the Titusville City Council following his official candidacy announcement on March 7. If elected, Griffin will be the youngest city councilman in Titusville and greater Crawford County history.
Located in Southern Crawford County, the city has a population of about 5,200. There are five seats on the council, and four seats are up for re-election in May.
As an advocate for rural communities and public service, the Democratic candidate hopes to improve local infrastructure and to support and aid small businesses, organized labor, and social services.
"There's this old saying: 'What people want most is for their water to turn on and their garbage to be picked up.' Most of the time, people get caught up in big debates," Griffin explained in regard to civic engagement in local government. "We need to get back to understanding that if we want to make meaningful changes it has to start at the local level."
If elected, he plans to work on forming a committee with representatives from city social services, including the police department, and the Titusville Area School District "to divvy up what needs to be done and get to work collectively."
When asked if voters have expressed concerns regarding his age, he explained that "there is no minimum age to do what is right. I think if the person has the determination, ability, and wants to see a positive change in the community, that's all that matters."
According to Griffin, some constituents have questioned his availability as a full-time college student. Griffin is a freshman at Mercyhurst University studying political science and criminal justice. Despite these concerns from the public, Griffin is confident in his ability to balance his responsibilities as a student and a public servant. He has experience balancing a full slate: while in high school, he worked for the Butcher & Winkler Law Firm and volunteered in the community for organizations such as United Way and the Titusville Historical Society.
While he is only a year into his collegiate studies, Griffin has already gathered substantial experience in the political sphere. Currently, Griffin is an administrative intern for Senator Bob Casey.
"I have loved my internship. It has been a great opportunity to see what goes on at the federal level." Griffin works within the Senator's regional office answering phone calls and letters. "It tells me what real people in our region are worried about," he said.
Further, the 2022 graduate of Titusville High School spearheaded efforts to increase involvement in local government throughout his school. Griffin was the leader of the Junior City Council, established during his senior year of high school. Leading up to the bimonthly city council meetings, Griffin met with students to discuss the agenda and gather public comments.
"Getting to do that really put a spark in me ... I got to sit up at the table alongside the official council members who were elected by our residents. It gave me a lot of insight," he shared. During his six-month period on the council, he worked on several projects including a sidewalk repair program to aid homeowners.
Griffin expressed the campaign has been "a lot of work." With a heavy focus on meeting with locals, he dedicates his weekends to knocking on doors with volunteer campaign staff. Additionally, he frequently attends local labor union meetings, including the Erie-Crawford Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO).
In March, Griffin participated in a ride-along with officers and K-9 officer "Griff" from the Titusville Police Department K-9 Unit. "It was a great experience to get to know the guys. I found out I was the only aspiring council person to ever ride along or stop into the station," he said. "I think it's important to keep fire and police in mind because what people need most out of city government is public safety."
Griffin further encouraged young people to get involved "in some way, to make an impact for someone, and for something bigger than themselves."
"Ultimately, we are going to be the leaders of the next generation. We are going to shape what path we go down. Getting a start locally, and helping out your neighbors, is one of the best things you can do," he said.
Learn more about Gavin Griffin's campaign at griffinfortitusville.com. Primary election day is Tuesday, May 16. You can find your polling place at pavoterservices.pa.gov
Julia Carden is a student at Pennsylvania Western University at Edinboro. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors, muckraking, and perusing comics in the New Yorker. She can be reached at email@example.com.