A Stevensville High School junior was elected as American Legion Boys State governor, as well as to represent Montana at the American Legion’s Boys Nation 2013.
Michael Tummarello, 17, will be heading to Washington, D.C., July 19 through 27, where he will tour the National Mall and potentially meet with President Barack Obama.
Tummarello said he wanted to be elected governor from the beginning, but recognized that coming from a small town meant less people knew him and that could potentially mean fewer votes. Tummarello was one of four students who went to Montana Boys State from Stevensville High School.
“Billings sent like 50 or 60 kids. Missoula sent like 50 or 60 kids, and those kids from these towns who run may be getting many of those votes by default in some cases,” Tummarello said. “I was a bit heartened when I won mayor because it showed me that people weren’t voting along city lines. That gave me hope.”
Boys State ran from June 9 through 14 at Carroll College in Helena. During this time, junior boys from all over the state learned about government at the city, state and national levels through practical exercises and speakers such as Sen. Jon Tester and Gov. Steve Bullock.
Boys State Director Mike Hedegaard wrote in a letter that it is more important than ever for American youth to understand how their government works and what makes it unique.
“For 66 years, Montana AL Boys State has taken the best of Montana’s youth and strengthened their leadership foundations,” Hedegaard wrote. “It has taught them important lessons in leadership, citizenship, sportsmanship and helped to forge them into effective future leaders of Montana and the nation.”
In Helena, the boys were divided into “Pioneer” and “Frontier” political parties and from there began the election process, starting with primaries within the parties and moving upward to an election of all offices at the state level.
Tummarello said that being elected governor meant he had more work to do at the end of the week, but that he was rewarded with a meeting with Bullock.
“He put his feet up on the table, cracked a soda and talked with us about a few different issues,” Tummarello said.
Tummarello also said that because he was elected governor, he felt that he was able to get his voice out a bit more, and as a result was also elected to represent Montana at AL Boys Nation. He said that he is most excited to see representatives from different states and see what their views are because that will be a good gauge of what his generation’s beliefs are.
“It’ll be cool to meet the president, shake his hand and maybe take a picture,” Tummarello added.
Zeno Wicks is a journalism student at the University of Montana and a summer intern in the Ravalli Republic newsroom. He can be contacted at 406-363-3300 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.