Delaitre Hollinger isn’t your average 18-year-old; he is the youngest person ever to run for public office in Tallahassee.
As a candidate for Seat 1 on the City Commission, Hollinger hopes to give voice to the under-served residents. “I want to decrease homelessness and poverty in the community,” said Hollinger. ” Me being someone that’s comes from a single mother home and someone who has gone through things like lights being turned off, it hits close to home.”
One of Hollinger’s role models, City Commissioner Andrew Gillum, was at age 23 the youngest person elected to the commission in 2003.
“I’m excited to see anyone with a passion and love and a demonstrated history in serving this community,” said Gillum, who is seeking re-election to City Commission Seat 2 on Tuesday. Hollinger has an extensive resume – from serving as vice president of the NAACP Youth Council to curator for the Taylor House Museum African-American History.
At age 15, Hollinger was chosen to serve on the College of Agriculture’s Gallery of Distinction and Dean’s Committee, making him the youngest person to be chosen to a university committee at Florida A & M University.
“People have been very open minded,” said Hollinger. “I think I would have been taken a lot more seriously in many cases had it not been for my age. But when I open my mouth people realize that I do have something to offer and that I really have the interest of the citizens of Tallahassee at heart.” Community service is very important to the young politician.
In 2009, he participated in a fight with Tallahassee residents to save the Leon County Mental Health Court. A year later, he successfully lobbied the Leon County Board of County Commissioners to name a field in honor of two distinguished community leaders Nickie Beasley and Nick Nims.
“I feel really good that I, with the support and aid of all my supporters, was able to revolutionize history, making this the first time in the history of the Leon County Commission that a parks and recreation facility had been named in tribute of an African-American,” said Hollinger.
Hollinger graduated six months early from Amos P. Godby High School, class of 2011 and is enrolled at Tallahassee Community College, where he is studying journalism.
“I never read him fantasy stories when he was younger. I always read him true stories of African-American history and he really took to it,” said his mother, Delois Hollinger. “I am so proud of all of his academic achievements. He is a delightful young man; he is not my little child anymore.”
While in high school, Hollinger earned a awards, recognizing his philanthropic and academic achievement. In 2011 he won the NAACP Youth and College Division Award and the Capitol Outlook Youth of the Year Award. Hollinger said his greatest honor was earning a Little Brother of The Year Award, where he and his Big Brother Brent Hartsfield, were nationally recognized at The White House and commended by President Barack Obama.
“I met Delaitre about seven years ago, that’s when I became his Big Brother. He was 12 years old and at that time, just a kid,” said Hartsfield. “I’m very proud of all he is doing within the Tallahassee community. He is living out his dreams.”
Hollinger’s ambition is to be elected to fill the seat being vacated by Commissioner Mark Mustian. Among six candidates vying in Tuesday’s primary to be placed on the November 6 ballot, Hollinger feels he is best suited for the job because of his honesty and willingness to work with all city officials. “There are three votes on the commission. We must work together and not bring each other down,” said Hollinger. “We need more transparency in government. We stay focused on the issues and stay honest and open with the citizens of Tallahassee.”
Also on Tuesday’s ballot are Steve Stewart, Scott Maddox, Daniel Parker, Bob Fulford, Eric Friall. If no one garners more than 50 percent of the votes, the top two voter getters will contest the general election in November.
His platform promotes a variety of issues, such as job creation, city sustainability and helping low income and economically disadvantaged families. “One of my main issues is job creation. I have a plan to create a small business passport committee that will identify the areas where the city is lacking and needs to be improved,” said Hollinger. “I don’t want the committee to be made up of just county and city commissioners like the current program, but rather made up of small business owners themselves.”
Hollinger serves on the advisory board of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation, is a member of the Democratic Club of North Florida and a board member for the Frenchtown Outreach Center.
“I decided to run for office because I feel that my calling is serving others,” Hollinger said. “I would like to set a standard for accessibility and transparency at the city government level.” For more information on Hollinger’s campaign visit his website.