- Associated Press - Monday, March 3, 2014

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Just call him “The Campaign Kid.”

An offer of school board race grunt work turned into a full-blown campaign manager gig for Nathan Levit, a sophomore at Booker T. Washington High School.

When the 16-year-old political junkie learned from his parents that Suzanne Schreiber was considering a run for the District 7 seat on the Tulsa school board, he emailed her and offered to help.

Levit had interned for former Mayor Kathy Taylor’s most recent mayoral campaign and had picked up so much that Schreiber immediately realized he had more to offer than grunt work.

“At our first meeting, he brought a typed agenda,” said Schreiber, an attorney who works with Levit’s father, Tulsa Community Foundation Executive Director Ken Levit, and who was a student of his mother’s, Janet Levit, the dean of the University of Tulsa’s College of Law.

“He told me he wanted to help for Tulsa kids, and ‘You can’t pay me.’ We did have a paid consultant also because Nathan had to also do high school, but Nathan and I ended up having a true partnership,” Schreiber, who won the February election with about 78 percent of the vote, told the Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/1l9ITIe).

While Schreiber herself had some campaign experience, she was a complete novice at social media and online fundraising.

She credits Levit’s work on both of those fronts with increasing voter turnout from about 600 in the District 7 election four years ago to about 800 in the recent race, and with half of the roughly $20,000 in donations her campaign received.

“He was so enthusiastic and such an inspiration for why I’m involved,” Schreiber said. “All kids can’t get the quality education he is getting at Booker T. Washington. Look at what a 16-year-old could do.”

Levit said he has read dozens of books about political campaigns, both large and small, and reads the newspaper and the website Politico daily to keep up with the local, state and national political scene.

“I guess I have the bug a little bit,” he said with a laugh. “I really get how elected officials make decisions that affect all of us, and I really want to influence those decisions. School board members make tons of decisions that affect me every single day as a public school student.”

His first steps were establishing Facebook and Twitter accounts for the campaign and registering a campaign website domain for Schreiber. He confessed he had no idea how to set up a means of online fundraising, but he quickly figured it out using a website called Campaign Partner.

“Engaging people through social media is one of the best ways to attract voters,” Levit said. “Even in a small election like this, getting 100 or 200 Facebook ‘likes’ is going to be effective in getting more votes.”

In just a couple of months’ time, Schreiber’s Facebook page had received 220 followers, and from studying the results from the last District 7 school board election, Team Schreiber knew that every vote would count.

“I knew in the recent mayoral election, there was something like 60,000 people voting,” Levit said. “So going in, I was thinking 60,000 divided by seven - for the seven school board districts - and take off a little more for lower turnout. Then I learned the last election was 301 to 296. I was stunned.

“If we were all 18 and lived in the district, my sophomore class at Booker T. could cast more votes than that.”

Helping to run Schreiber’s campaign wasn’t just an education in democracy but also in time management for the overachiever.

On top of his schoolwork, Levit had to balance campaign duties with his commitments to BBYO, a leadership organization for Jewish teenagers, and his extracurricular activities: Model United Nations, Key Club, speech and debate team and golf team.

He said he couldn’t have managed if his best buddies, Micah Cash, also a Booker T. Washington student, and Pete Kelly, a Holland Hall student, hadn’t been willing to pitch in and help him with his campaign duties.

“Between school and extracurriculars, I had a little too much on my plate,” Levit said. “I knew I could trust them because they were, one, capable, and two, willing.”


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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