Early Start: 22-year-old Ivan Huffman embraces opportunity on Lewisville Town Council

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 18, 2024

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By Jim Buice

LEWISVILLE — As an aspiring 22-year-old candidate for the Lewisville Town Council, Ivan Huffman’s response was, “If not now, why?” 

It didn’t matter to Huffman, a sixth-generation resident of Lewisville, that others on the council might be old enough to be his parent or grandparent.

Fresh out of graduating from Western Carolina University in May 2023 with bachelor’s degrees in marketing and also in business administration and law, Huffman filed to run for office last summer and claimed the sixth and final spot on the council out of seven candidates in the November election.

“As I knew many people in the community were supportive of my endeavors and campaign, and appreciated my passion and fresh perspectives, I was highly confident in my ability to win,” he said. “However, I knew that this race would likely be close — as it was.”

So what was the reaction from his perspective when others in Lewisville realized such a young person was on the ballot?

“I believe most people reacted positively, but there were two obvious thoughts,” Huffman said. “Many members of the community were excited to see someone young, with fresh perspectives on the ballot, and it was refreshing for many of those residents. There were other members of the community that had reservations as most people expect older members of the community on council.

“I hope that each member of the community read about each candidate and made their decision on our qualifications, history and dedication to our town, rather than a number associated with the candidate. We all have varying backgrounds, and I would not want anyone to choose solely based off age — young or old.” 

And any funny stories other than “why?” and “what are you thinking?” 

“The funniest story was from my youngest brother (who goes to Reagan High School) when I asked him during the campaign if anyone was talking about the elections at his school,” said Huffman, who graduated from Reagan. “His exact words were, ‘Yeah, no one cares.’ My goal as a young member of the council is to get at least one young person interested in their local community but not necessarily politics.”

Although he’s still a “newbie” in his position, Huffman, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Friday (April 19), said that things have gone well in his five months on the council.

“With any new job, you have an onboarding process that acclimates all the personalities, new council with former council, staff, etc.” he said. “Former council member Fred Franklin gave me a multiple-page letter with things to know coming onto council — nothing policy based, simply what to expect. This was by far the best piece of information I was given.”

Huffman has quickly learned that government works slowly and can be redundant, which has helped him to slow down when working with the multitude of stakeholders and members of the community compared to him being “a very matter of fact, get-to-the-point style person.”

Another observation Huffman made is that there is always a lot going on in Lewisville — numerous projects, road improvements, park improvements, infrastructure improvements, etc. 

“All of these projects are necessary and benefit everyone differently,” he said. “I believe council has and will need to continue working with staff to prioritize and ensure projects are running efficiently and cost effectively.”

When asked what’s best about living in Lewisville, Huffman, who is director of advancement at Open Door Ministries in High Point and plans to earn his master’s degree in entrepreneurship and innovation leadership in 2025 from Western Carolina, didn’t hesitate to answer.

“I love the town, the parks, the events, the community and the scenery,” he said. “However, for me, Lewisville means family. This is where I am from. The farm I live on and have spent my entire life to the trees my grandfather planted on Conrad Road are a symbol of the life my family has built here. Heritage is very important, and Lewisville does an amazing job of preserving the town that we are all fortunate enough to be a part of. 

“Family is the backbone for me. History and heritage are really all we can say we have for certain. We don’t know what tomorrow brings, we don’t know what job we will land, where we will live, but we know who helped us get to where we are — family.”

And that’s what ultimately led to him seeking office at age 22.

“It was not because someone did a poor job before me or because I felt change was needed immediately,” Huffman said. “Change does not happen overnight, but my family always taught me that if you want to change something, you have to start the process. I want my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and more to enjoy Lewisville as I have, and waiting until I am 60 seems like the wrong time to start planning for my family’s future.”