N&O Names Jensen one of "Seven Who Will Matter"

From "Seven who will matter in 2007" (News & Observer, 1/1/2007):

Tom Jensen has worked on two dozen political campaigns. He writes weekly columns for a local newspaper. He helps edit a local political blog. He's on Chapel Hill's planning board.

And he is 23.

Jensen's latest project is to persuade North Carolina cities to sign a commitment to reduce greenhouse gases.

The effort, based on a climate protection agreement by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, amounts to sort of a local government version of the international Kyoto Protocol, Jensen said.

Five cities have already signed up. The N.C. Sierra Club's goal is 12 by the end of 2007, although Jensen confided that he is hoping far more will commit. Jensen said he isn't interested in only the biggest cities.

"There's no reason small cities shouldn't be environmental leaders, too," said Jensen, who rides the bus from Chapel Hill to Raleigh for work each day.

The 2006 UNC-Chapel Hill graduate began his foray into politics in high school by working on a school bond campaign for his school district in Ann Arbor, Mich. He said he wanted to get away from the drama of student government politics.

"I thought, 'I could be here quibbling about dances, or I could get out in the community and really make a difference,' " he said.

As a UNC student, he campaigned for city council candidates and managed a race for a candidate for county commissioner. He also ran for student body president and lost, and he now serves as president of the N.C. Federation of College Democrats, comparing himself to former presidential candidate Howard Dean.

"I think I ran too angry of a campaign," Jensen said. "We each got 18 percent of the vote. He ended up chair of the [Democratic National Committee]. I ended up state College Democrats president."

Most recently, Jensen was the full-time campaign manager for a Superior Court Judge candidate who narrowly lost his race.

He will be too busy for a 2007 run for office himself, but he said he might eventually try for a seat on the Chapel Hill town council.

Congratulations, Tom! A well deserved honor and an astute choice by the N&O.


Thanks Dan!

I am somewhat embarrassed to be listed in the same company with folks that have accomplished so much more than me but I am certainly flattered.

Anything I've been able to accomplish during my time in Chapel Hill is thanks to the kindness so many veterans of local politics, many of whom post here, have shown me over the last four years.

I am very appreciative of all of you.

Congratulations, Tom.

I was reading the article thinking "why do they always focus on these 'establishment types' and completely overlook the movers and shakers in the vibrant world of grassroots activism?" when suddenly, last but not least, there was Tom getting the mention.

I suspect Mark, that more than a few would not agree with your labeling The Rev. William Barber an "establishment type" and not a mover and shaker "in the vibrant world of grassroots activism."

Rev. William Barber is an AMAZING radical speaker with real change on his mind and in his heart. I'm excited to see the results of his work. If you have a chance to see him speak in person... DO IT! I count the times I've seen him speak as the most uplifting and energizing experiences of my LIFE.

Thanks for pointing that out. He probably does not fit as well into the insider category that the others seem to. I think what caught my attention was his focus on reforming the public education system which always reminds me of efforts to get women in the military.

OK, Mark, I'll bite. How do public education reform efforts remind you of allowing women in the military?

Also: congrats, Tom, it is good to see young people recognized.

I had a chance to see the Rev. Barber speak last year in Asheville and I was also very impressed, both with his message and the power with which he delivers it.

The systems are fundamentally flawed and it is an illusory achievement to gain access to them. By gaining access to the school system, I mean what I think Rev. Barber probably means which is to gain access to a "higher quality" of school.

Here is an excellent overview of the public school problem:


Mark, thanks for the link to that article, it was very eye opening and I can't say I disagree with him.


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