At age 21, Derrick Skaug can call himself an elected official at both a city and a university. Skaug, a fourth-year political science major at Washington State University, serves both as the campus’ Associated Students vice president and an at-large Pullman City Council. The Colbert, Wash., native beat out eight other contenders and was appointed to the seat this month. So what’s a young man to do with all that political power? Here’s what Skaug told The Inlander.
What made you decide to run for VP?
I was a state champion in Washington State in debate. And that was really rewarding, but when I came to college there was nothing really like that at WSU. There’s no debate team.
I began writing as a columnist for the Daily Evergreen, the school paper. You know, weekly columns just about local and state politics. And while I enjoyed that, I felt very powerless in the sense that I could complain and I could criticize and I could argue, but there was really no decision-making authority. And that was a little frustrating, especially when I was trying to work with our student leaders.
So I decided, why not be one? So I ran for the [WSU] Senate and was elected. I was able to do a lot of important stuff, making a difference, going and lobbying. That was really fulfilling.
So you’re on the Pullman City Council to represent the students?
In a way, yes. The city does an excellent job in hearing the students’ voice. But bringing a different perspective is important. I’m certainly not going to say that my sole purpose is helping the students. What’s good for Pullman is good for WSU. Our fates are really intertwined.
Any hot-button issues coming up in Pullman?
Pullman City Council doesn’t take on these resolutions like the Spokane City Council does. Which you could argue, one way or the other, if that’s a good or bad thing. Typically City Council tends not to go too much into the partisan issues [like Spokane’s recent resolution on same-sex marriage].
So, who has a nicer meeting place: the City Council or WSU?
The council chambers are definitely more impressive, although we do have some pretty nice chambers in our student union building. But the council chambers have that really great history to them.