On September 18, 2019, the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN)—Madison hosted Wisconsin Future Caucus Co-Chairs Representative Adam Neylon (R) and Representative Amanda Stuck (D). The panel, moderated by YNPN—Madison board member Scott Coenen, centered around issues Millennials are facing in politics, the importance of leadership, and opportunities for young professionals to positively impact their communities.
The Co-Chairs shared how they became politically engaged and eventually became involved with the Millennial Action Project (MAP). When MAP came to her, Rep. Stuck said she was inspired by the different approach to legislating which focused on working across the aisle with her Republican colleagues. Rep. Neylon admits that he was hesitant because of party lines, but ultimately realized that most of his legislative goals were bipartisan in nature.
Throughout the panel, both representatives touched on different issues where they have found common ground on with their colleagues across the aisle. As Chair of the Committee on Jobs and the Economy, Rep. Neylon noted that his committee passed eleven bills during the 2019 session that had bipartisan support. Rep. Stuck also highlighted some bills she has been working on with her Republican colleagues, including a college savings bill similar to the one Oregon recently enacted.
The conversation moved to the issue of driving Millennial voter turnout. Coenen pointed out that although Millennials are one of the largest voting blocs—ten million individuals—voter turnout hovers around 20 percent. Rep. Stuck attributed this, in part, to the negative perception that young people have of politics. Rep. Neylon noted that elected officials are partially responsible for this point of view and both members agreed that it is up to them as elected officials to help Millennials become more engaged. Rep. Stuck encouraged legislators to use their platform to reach younger voters. She emphasized legislators’ role, adding “that there are good people involved and that if they want good people, [Millennials] have to be involved.”
The discussion concluded with possible solutions on how Millennials can become more active. Rep. Stuck advised younger people to start on the ground through volunteering and building connections. Rep. Neylon added that “it’s not who you know, but who knows you.” Rep. Stuck also warned young people not to be discouraged by older generations and those who may be in leadership currently, contending that you have to be willing to push back against leadership and your own members to get the results you want. Rep. Neylon left the crowd with the final remark, “get yourself out there, show up to things, and opportunities will find you.”