Photo by Diane Cox
Wood River City Councilman Scott Miner at the June 2 City Council meeting.
Scott Miner was no longer a minor when he turned 18 years old in September 2012. A short six months later he was an elected member of the Wood River City Council and found himself in the Illinois history books by becoming the youngest elected official in the state.
“I didn’t know that I was the youngest,” Miner said. “That is really a great honor and I’m proud ... I’m glad I can be a part of showing a community that young people can and are willing to make a difference.”
When it comes to age, Miner is persistent when reaching out to a younger community and introducing them to politics. Miner has built a Facebook page to help communicate with residents and uses it as a tool to pass on information on events, boil orders, power outages and emergency situations. He also takes time to answer residents’ messages.
“It’s essential that younger people get involved in what’s going on their community,” Miner said. “For example, those who have jobs in high school pay taxes; they should be interested and want to know where their money is going and how our government works on all levels.”
Miner has found local politics is not quite what he imagined, but he has been enjoying the experience and has taken every opportunity to learn and grow as a public servant.
“One thing I learned is that it takes time to get things accomplished,” Miners said. “Some people may think things are decided on overnight, but that’s not the case and quite frankly the residents deserve a better process ... to give ideas thought and consideration is the way to bring about better results.”
Having been a high school student during his first political campaign and being a college freshman throughout his first year, Miner has found wisdom through fellow office-holders.
“Mayor Ufert has been a good teacher and has been very diligent in helping me adjust to some of the more complex situations,” Miner said. “Councilman Akers has become a friend and mentor throughout my first year and brings a lot of experience to the table ... he’s given great advice and has helped me with good guidance.”
Wood River City Clerk Jan Sneed is impressed with Miner’s involvement throughout his first year in office.
“He’s been to every meeting and is very involved,” Sneed said. “You will always find him at extracurricular events throughout the city and (he) is doing a great job getting younger people interested in the community and what’s going on in the city government.”
Being approachable is crucial in Miner’s idea of politics, and he stays involved to keep that door of communication open with his residents.
“I want to make a presence and let the residents know that I’m involved and that I genuinely care,” Miner said. “I have found that being at the Oilers’ football and soccer games, or Tri-City (recreation) games, or library events allows the people an opportunity to approach me and talk to me on a casual and comfortable level.”
Fellow council member Frank Akers said he is pleased with Miner’s willingness to start at the local level and learn as much as he can.
“It’s obvious to me that Scott (Miner) is very bright, he knows and understands the community; which is extremely helpful ... I enjoy working with him and enjoy his very positive attitude.”
Akers said Miner is working hard to learn the ropes.
“I think he’s doing a great job,” Akers said. “He is obviously a student of government; I was young when I got started in politics and I see that he and I have a lot in common.”
Miner attends Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and is majoring in political science. His long-term plans are to remain in public service in one way or another, but he has not made permanent plans.
“When my first term ends, I’ll be graduating college,” Miner said. “I just know that I want to serve my local community, my county and our state as long as people will give me their trust and bless me with the ability to serve them in future offices and opportunities.”
Scott Miner has completed his first year of a four-year term for the Wood River City Council. City Council meetings are at 7 p.m. on the first and third Monday of the month at Wood River City Hall. City Council meetings are open to the public.