Someone you should know

By CiaraShook

Once a month, The Chronicle profiles people on campus who are doing interesting or important things. Here’s someone you should know.

While most Columbia students are consumed with class, homework and maybe a part-time job, sophomore broadcast journalism major John Trierweiler is running for public office.

Being a politician and being a journalist can be like oil and water-they don’t always mix. But for Trierweiler, both are important parts of his future.

A lifetime resident of Geneva, Ill., Trierweiler has been actively involved in his community for years, and over the next two months he will be going door to door around the town, campaigning for city council. At 20 years old, he is running for alderman, a post previously held by a man 60 years his senior.

The Chronicle talked with Trierweiler about his campaign and busy life as a full-time student.=

The Chronicle: How did you first get involved in local government and community activism?

John Trierweiler: I first got involved in local government through my high school. I became extremely involved with working with the local mayor and alderman. There were different events in the community I began helping them with. I enjoyed what I was doing.

For my Eagle Scout project, I distributed smoke detectors in the community. I had done some volunteer work with the fire department and asked the fire chief if there was anything he needed. He said they had smoke detectors that needed to be distributed.

Terry Burns, the mayor’s wife, worked at the high school as the student activities director. She got us involved in a lot of community activities. We would go to events and film stuff for them. She got us involved in a lot of volunteering. We ended up meeting Kevin Burns, the mayor. It really took off when we got into high school. I ended up working on his campaign. I did some things for the Geneva History Center and the Fire Department. Here we are today.

What made you decide to run?

I’ve always enjoyed doing things to help the community. I’ve always enjoyed the opportunity of government to lead and listen to people. That’s a reason I sit on the student senate at Columbia.

There was an opening here on the city council. It was an opportunity to serve the citizens and lead. It was in my ward, and I thought “what a great opportunity.” Several people around me encouraged me to go ahead. I had been thinking about it for a while.

How are you campaigning?

We’re a small town-only 25,000 people live in Geneva. Campaigning for alderman here involves going door to door, getting people to sign the petition, talking to neighbors, talking to local residents, seeing if they have any issues and letting them know you’re there for them. The press has helped tremendously. I feel very confident that I can visit all these houses.

For my Eagle Scout project, we visited about 1,000 houses. No TV ads or anything. We’ll probably throw a few fundraisers, do some neighborhood coffees. We’ll make some yard signs and call it a day. The election is April 7, so we have about two months of campaigning.

How will you have time for it all?

Things may be a little busy at times, but that’s how I like it. I don’t like to sit around and do nothing. I’m going to be back to school full-time, work on the student senate and I also work for a bank to pay for school.

What do you plan on doing for the community if you get elected?

There aren’t a whole lot of issues to deal with here. We’re a very small town-hot button issues. Mainly, it’s making sure to make your community a better place and maintain the beauty it already has. People come from all over the Midwest to see the town and spend the weekend here. It is a charming little community. The worst thing that could happen would be to see that go away. I think maintaining that charm is important.

Also working to continue development of the East State Street Corridor, route 38. There’s more that can be done to make it look better. I want to make that more productive. There are a lot of small businesses, but it could use some work.

Recently, the Kane County Jail and Sheriff’s office moved. There is now 14 acres of empty land. That’s a great opportunity to put something large there. Something to create jobs and help the economy of Geneva.

Also, the landfill here recently closed. I’d like to see that turned into a recreational area. It could be covered up, made into a toboggan hill. We could put a man-made hiking trail, or a prairie.

What do you do for fun?

When I have some spare time, I like to hang out with my friends and have a good time. I just kick back and relax. It’s something I don’t get to do very often.

I really like the outdoors. In the summer, I go out west. I go camping and hike in the mountains. I’ve been to Colorado, New Mexico, Montana and Wyoming.

In the winter, I like to snow ski, but I don’t get to do it a lot. I haven’t gone in a few years. If the opportunity arrives again, I’ll definitely go.

You’re a broadcast major. What shows do you like?

I love “Seinfeld.” It relates to everyday life. How could you not find it funny? I also like “The Office.” I watch some late night TV too, shows like “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I do catch up on news too, being a broadcast journalism major.

What is your favorite class you’ve taken at Columbia?

I’d say one of my favorite classes was Meteorolgy. I really enjoyed it. Weather is something that’s always interested me. I always get keen and in touch with the severe storm season in the spring. I always thought it’d be cool to go out storm chasing for a week in Oklahoma.

My teacher was Rick DiMaio, who is a former FOX weather reporter. He taught us so much about weather, but also being a broadcast journalism major, it was nice because he told us stuff about television and how it works to do the weather on TV.

Do you commute?

I do commute, usually three times a week. I try to take the morning train in, and usually I’m down here all day. If you get lucky with an express train, it can be fast, usually about an hour. It can be rough at times, not always the best thing in the world.

Do you want to continue in politics after graduation or go into journalism?

I’m not sure. Politics and journalism don’t really always go well together. I really enjoy television. I love news-the energy and excitement of it all. But there are times when the two don’t mix. I want to get my degree in broadcast journalism. I think I’d ultimately like to pursue a career in television, but politics can be a lot fun.