Column: My experience running for the Piqua City Commission

By Nolan Campbell

Guest columnist

It’s crazy to think that a year ago I started my campaign for 3rd ward Piqua City Commissioner at only 17 years old. I am here today to share the story of my experience.

Everything started when I moved to Piqua in 2018. At the time, I loved Piqua more than any other place I had been. It was my new home. When I found out that I could run for the city commission seat and maybe have the chance to give back to my community, I wanted to do it without a doubt.

I officially threw my hat in the ring after learning about the absolute chaos that is the Main Street-High Street intersection in downtown Piqua. A problem that still has not been solved.

I ran for office because I wanted to make a difference, not because citizens wanted to “back a young man whom they can mold to their way of thinking.” And yes, that was a direct quote from a Miami Valley Today editorial written by possibly my biggest fan.

The editorials kept coming from March through the election.

At the time that they were published, they hurt, real bad. My friends said they had never seen anything break me down as much as these letters. Every day I had to slap a smile on my face and try to find the motivation to keep running my campaign, as well as being a student, an athlete, a son, and a friend.

These hurt me so much that I took the step to seek professional mental health resources. This was the hardest place I had been in. I expected to get a little bit of hate because I was running a campaign, but I didn’t expect things to get as bad as they did.

“You’re not ready for a chair at the table.”

“I hope you’re wise and mature enough to recognize that enough of what I said is true, and that the correct course of action would be to abandon your candidacy and work on improving yourself so that when you’re ready to actually serve our community, you’ll really understand the meaning of being successful.”

“You have shown, in your letter, that you know nothing about the town and simply want to go back to the same unelected elitists’ power and control, which got us into this enormous debt while taxpayers are burdened for years of projects’ cost and maintenance charges for which the residents weren’t even given a chance to vote for or against.”

“As far as bullying goes, any candidate, especially an inexperienced one, should be prepared to be bullied by just about everyone, even those on his or her side.”

Taking a few steps back, before any of these publications came out, I met with Kris Lee, who held the seat at the time and won re-election. He told me that he would never speak poorly of me, and would support me all the way, also that he was not going to run again.

Kris Lee never did speak against me, he just had his campaign treasurer do it for him. And he did decide to run.

In no way am I faulting Kris Lee for running, but I just expected him to have the decency to be straightforward with me when he decided to run.

Over the last few months of the campaign, I tried to remain positive, hopefully, keep my head up, and work hard. But things got harder when the attacks started to be directed to my “political mentor and ‘Bonus Mom’ is Past Mayor and current City Commissioner Kazy Hinds.” Commissioner Hinds had nothing to do with my campaign and was a family friend whom we had known since we moved here in 2018.

November 2nd finally rolled around, and it was the most relieving day of my life. I was able to spend the evening with all of my family and friends celebrating what I had accomplished.

I thought that after I lost that night, everything would be over, but the other side had to get one final blow in… “Lmao. Nolan Campbell is a [expletive] high school student. The fact that 707 people thought that was a good idea…” It was a good feeling to know that I made enough of an impact to get 707 votes and have people frightened that a recently turned 18-year-old might have the chance to become a city commissioner.

During my campaign, I stated that I would be attending a local university. And I sincerely apologize to you, because I have decided to leave the state for school.

I would like to sincerely thank you for either your support or ridicule. Both helped me become the person I am now.

If this campaign has taught you anything, let it be that not everyone has the same face behind closed doors. Never turn your back, Piqua; the citizens are not at the forefront of this city anymore.

Nolan Campbell lives in the city of Piqua and was a previous candidate for the Piqua City Commission. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Miami Valley Today does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.