On Oct. 11, State Representative Grant Wehrli was invited to speak with and answer questions from students in the club Junior State of America (JSA). Wehrli is a Republican whose jurisdiction covers the 41st district which includes the Naperville area.
Wehrli answered several questions students had, ranging from topics such as education and funding, recent federal level political events, the midterm elections and Illinois’ budget.
In response to a question regarding the recent confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Wehrli stated his support for victims and justice.
“I believe any victim of any crime that is committed,” Wehrli said. “But then what do we do from there? Are we going to get you help whether it be a doctor, counseling, do you want to go after your perpetrator and file a police report and have them brought to justice? I’m with you. But if your story falls apart, that’s a problem.”
Wehrli also warned students of the consequences that may come from their actions during this time in their life, especially with the predominance of social media.
“If you want to go into politics, [social media] might crush you,” Wehrli said. “Somebody is going to dig up information on you, Republican or Democrat. That to me is not the standard we should set ourselves at for an elected official or confirmation of a supreme court justice.”
Senior Taylor Longhitano was fascinated by Wehrli’s unique points of view.
“I thought the meeting was really cool and I’m glad that I came,” Longhitano said. “[Wehrli] had a lot of interesting answers about different ways to measure the economy’s progress that I never would have thought of.”
The perspective of a state representative broadened sophomore Kate Li’s view of how social issues are relevant to students’ lives.
“I thought that it was a really enlightening experience,” Li said. “I’ve never really gotten to talk or meet a local politician so hearing him speak so specifically about issues that are going on in the state helped me figure out issues that I should be giving more attention to.”
JSA teacher sponsor Samantha Christoff was proud of the way students navigated the discussion coming prepared with questions.
“I am so incredibly proud of our chapter for the questions that they asked and the engagement that they had during the session,” Christoff said.
Wehrli had a resounding message to students, regardless of what their own political views might be.
“Keep at this,” Wehrli said. “Go vote. Pay attention to what people like me are doing no matter what you do in life, and do it in a respectable manner.”