Political Shadows

Published by The Walton Tribune, Written by Stephen Milligan

It’s an oft-stated ambition of would-be insiders and players of the political scene to be a fly on the wall of the halls of power. Loganville Christian Academy seniors Harrison Davis and Rachel Byers went one better. They entered the Capitol with the intent of being shadows.

Davis, 18, and Byers, 17, undertook the same senior project at the private school, choosing to shadow a local member of the General Assembly. Both settled on their own representative, Rep. Tom Kirby, R-Loganville, and shadowed the lawmaker on several trips under the gold dome to get a taste for the life politic.

“We both went to Boys State and Girls State,” Davis said, referencing the annual statewide summer camp in which students of both genders create their own governments. “It introduced us to politics.”

So, when the mandatory senior project — which every LCA student must complete in their final year to graduate high school — came up, the two both looked to continue their initiation into the political sphere.

The two reached out to Kirby, who was happy to give them a guided tour of his responsibilities in the General Assembly. “I was very surprised and extremely honored they wanted to shadow me,” Kirby said. “I think it’s great to see young people have an interest in politics today.”

Neither was able to shadow Kirby during the session, when the real work of the state House of Representatives is conducted, but visiting during the summer months gave them a different look into the world of state politics.

“The pace was different,” Byers said. “We got to meet a lot of cool people and talked with Rep. Kirby in his office about being a representative.”

Byers said she was surprised to find out Kirby had another career and that the majority of the elected officials in the General Assembly are not full-time politicians.  “I didn’t realize it wasn’t his only job,” Byers said. “It’s not your whole career.”

For Davis, who enjoyed introducing his own bills in the mock legislature at Boys State, Kirby gave him a look at how the work is done at the state level. “We showed me how you go through the process of introducing a bill,” Davis said.

The two also had a chance to accompany Kirby on other trips among the political class, including a Christmas party at the Governor’s Mansion, where Byers met Gov. Nathan Deal, and the Wild Hog Supper, an event where the duo met a variety of political movers and shakers.

“It was real cool,” Davis said. “We met a lot of people.”

The two both said they learned a great deal from the experience.

“I’m interested in politics and I can see myself doing this,” Byers said. “Everyone there has a different background and they take into their work and I want to do the same.”
Davis agreed, though he said he also learned how difficult the experience could be as well.

“It can be hard to get anyone to agree on something,” Davis observed. “It definitely looked complicated.”

Kirby, though, said he has high hopes for both his shadows as they step into the limelight on their own. “Their future looks real good,” Kirby said.