Age no block for young leader

Published 6:06 pm Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Troy City Councilman Jason Reeves doesn’t have much age to back him up, but that’s never stopped him.

That’s why Reeves, who was the youngest councilman ever elected in Troy’s history, taking his office at the age of 24, was asked to address the Pike County Young Professionals Wednesday at the group’s quarterly Leadership Luncheon.

Even though Reeves was elected at 24, his passion for politics sparked at a much earlier age.

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“My grandmother probably is one of the people I credit my interest in politics to,” Reeves said. “I remember one time when I was seven, she took me to the capital, and we just marched in the governor’s office, and she said, ‘My grandson wants to meet the governor.’

“He wasn’t in, but his secretary let us go in and sit at his desk, and I ate candy off of it.”

While that experience spurred the wide-eyed boy’s political start, it wasn’t the only thing that helped him along the way.

“While I was at Troy University, a guy named Wally Lowery approached me in the fall of ’93 and said ‘Give me $5 and sign this. I want you to run for Senate.’”

Beginning as a member of the Student Government Association Senate, Reeves worked his way to the top, being elected as president the following semester.

Growing up also with a grandfather who was head of the city of Troy’s utility department and a father who was the police chief, Reeves had his share of familiarity with city affairs.

Between his passion for politics and his love of Troy, it was only logical Reeves try his hand in city business himself.

The young Reeves didn’t just ease his way into the seat.

“I was out campaigning one day, and I knocked on a lady’s door. She looked at me and said, ‘Boy, how old are you?’ When I told her she laughed and said, ‘Get off my porch.’”

So Reeves, despite his age, had plenty of leadership advice to offer the young professionals gathered at the luncheon.

“One of the ways I’ve gotten into many of the leadership roles I’ve had is just by saying yes — like when I said yes to running for office,” Reeves said.

“A lot of times all it takes for the opportunity is to say yes.”

But like anything, “yes” should be used in moderation, he said.

“You can say yes too much. The second part of that is learn to say no,” Reeves said.

“Know when to say no.”

Reeves said another important part of being a leader is to both mentor and be mentored.

“Find someone you look up to, and spend time with them,” he said.

And finally, Reeves said the best leadership advice he can give is to keep priorities in order.

“Faith and family have to come first,” he said.

“If you have problems at home or with your spirituality, your work’s going to suffer.”

The Pike County Young Professionals is sponsored by the Pike County Chamber of Commerce.