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Club pushes a passion for politics

Joe Perman, Alekhya Tallapaka and Aaron Larrow are the founds and president of the Rosemount High School Young Democrats Club.

Alekhya Tallapaka, Aaron Larrow and Joe Perman are all too young to vote in next week's election, but they haven't let that stop them from being part of the political process.

The three Rosemount High School students are the driving force behind what they hope will be a revitalized Young Democrats Club at Rosemount High School. They want the club, which currently has 10 members and is growing, to provide an outlet and an inspiration for students and their interest in politics.

The RHS Young Democrats Club has been around for three years, but in previous years it tended to be a social group more than a forum for serious discussion. The girl who founded the club had big ambitions, staff advisor Liz Erickson said, but they never really went anywhere.

Larrow and Pearman, co-founders of the new club, and Tallapaka, the club's president, hope to change that. Tallapaka brings agendas to each of the club's weekly meetings filled with topics for discussion, and club members have spent time volunteering with Minnesotans United for All Families, the group leading the fight against this year's proposed marriage amendment, and for President Barack Obama's campaign in Minnesota.

The idea, the club's three leaders say, is encourage political awareness among a group that doesn't always think what's happening in government applies to them.

"Most of my friends are, like, 'We can't vote, why should I care about politics?'" Tallapaka said.

Tallapaka sees things differently, and so do Larrow and Pearman. They see an election that will play an important role in shaping their future, and they believe it's important for everyone to be involved.

All three have had a long-term interest in politics. Tallapaka is the editor of the Irish Gazette, Rosemount High School's newspaper, and a member of the RHS debate team. Her career interests lean more toward math and science, but Erickson has already predicted she will be Secretary of State somewhere down the line. Tallapaka says a future in politics is not out of the question.

Pearman, who credits his interest in politics to a particularly inspiring sixth grade teacher he had in Florida, would like to run for governor someday in Texas.

"I've always been interested in world events," Pearman said.

Larrow sees himself more as an observer, but he traces his interest in politics to fifth grade, when he became fascinated with World War II.

For all three, the Young Democrats Club has been a good outlet.

"It gives us a unique voice more than anything else," Tallapaka said. "We have a chance to go out there and set out our views."

With the election so close, this has been a particularly exciting time for the club. The group's three leaders hope to maintain that interest after Nov. 6 has come and gone.

Rosemount High School has had a Young Republicans Club in recent years, but that group has not gotten organized yet this year. There has been some talk about merging the two clubs and creating a Young Politicians Club. There is some interest in that, at least among the Democrats. They see it as an opportunity for a more complete debate.

"We can prove we're better than those in Washington," Larrow said.

For now, though, the group's attention is squarely on next Tuesday.

"The stresses are unbelievably high," Tallapaka said. "I'm super stressed."

Imagine how she'd feel if she could vote.