Huffpost Politics

Pat Noble, 19-Year-Old Socialist, Takes New Jersey School Board Seat

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The New Jersey state capitol dome in Trenton, N.J.
The New Jersey state capitol dome in Trenton, N.J.

A 19-year-old socialist took office last week as the member of a local school board in New Jersey.

Pat Noble, a pharmacy clerk, was sworn-in as a member of the Red Bank Regional High School Board of Education after defeating an incumbent in November's election, NJ.com reported. Noble is the founder of the Socialist Party of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, which seeks to promote socialist ideals in the two Jersey shore counties.

Noble, who unsuccessfully ran for Monmouth County freeholder in 2011, told NJ.com that he hopes to take his socialist views to the school board.

“You reach more people, more quickly when you win an election,” said Noble, whose father, Peter, is a member of the board of education for the Red Bank Borough Public Schools. “People would rather hear from a candidate than some guy on a street corner, especially on socialism when a majority of them are capitalists.”

Now, Noble said he plans to stand up for his socialist beliefs as a member of the Red Bank Regional school board.

“I’m hoping to bring a different perspective, a left-wing perspective to a board full of capitalists,” he said. “I have a different view point, both as a younger person and a Socialist, that I think could have a positive impact in and of itself.”

Noble plans to focus on several areas as a school board member, including the promotion of LGBT issues in sex education classes, banning military recruiters from schools, opposing merit pay for teachers and fighting budget cuts.

Noble is not the first teenager with ties to far left groups to win a school board seat in the U.S. In 2005, Shane Brinton, an 18-year-old who had been involved with local Communist Party anti-war activities, was elected to the North Humboldt Union High School Board of Education in northern California. Brinton, a Democrat, said in the book The Next Generation: Young Elected Officials and Their Impact on American Politics, that he was not a member of the Communist Party, but was involved with it as part of his opposition to the Iraq War, noting that it was better organized. Brinton, now the mayor of Arcata, Calif., had a similar platform to Noble on the school board, including opposing military recruiters and overhauling the school system's sex education curriculum.

Noble is also not the only young elected official to take office as a school board member in New Jersey this month. J. Brendan Galligan, 23, was sworn-in as a member of the Westfield Board of Education last week. Galligan, an engineering student, did not disclose his political beliefs in his campaign, and did not include changes to Westfield's sex education curriculum or a military recruitment ban in his platform. U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was 20 when he was elected to the Union City, N.J. Board of Education in 1974.

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