St. Edmond student achieves role of attorney general at Boys State
By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
FORT DODGE – Most high school students don’t go from being a lawyer to being attorney general in one week, but Callaghan Coleman achieved this at Boys State this summer.
The high school senior was one of three from St. Edmond High School in Fort Dodge to participate in Boys State. Jimmy Averill and Eddie Boyle, seniors, also attended Boys State at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa.
There were 440 young men from across the state of Iowa who participated in this yearly program run by the American Legion that teaches about politics. The students created their own mock state with city, county and state officers while living in barracks at Camp Dodge.
“I enjoyed the knowledge that I received about the political system because there is a lot more that goes on than what we see,” said Coleman of his week at Boys State.
Becoming attorney general
After debating what position he would like to run for, Coleman decided to run for attorney general because he is thinking about going into law and becoming a trial lawyer in the future.
Beginning the process, Coleman ran and was elected as a city lawyer, which meant he would go to law school. He tested in the top group on the mock bar exam, so he was nominated to become a judge.
After the city jobs, then he ran for the office of county attorney and was elected. Then it came time to run for attorney general of Boys State.
“For becoming the city lawyer, I gave one speech, explaining who I was,” explained Coleman. “For county attorney, it was basically the same thing, except you gave more of why you should receive the position. There were about 35-40 boys trying for the position of attorney general.”
When he arrived at Boys State, he had received $320 in Boys State money, which he used to pay for the fee to run for attorney general - $300. The other positions he ran for had a cost as well, so he asked other participants to support him by giving him money.
“It gave me insight into campaigning,” said Coleman, who added that another requirement to run was about 50 signatures from other participants. “I was part of the Nationalist Party. Each person spoke to the assembly, half of Boys State, about who they are and why they should be selected to the position.”
After the speeches, the candidates spread throughout the room and the participants chose to stand by the person they wanted to vote for. Coleman had quite a few people stand by him – over 100 votes.
“I was pretty lucky. I was pretty confident that I would be selected from our party,” he said. “The ballots were sent out, everyone voted and I was selected from our party. I had about 130 out of 220 votes.”
The young man who was selected for the other party pretty much had full support from his party as well, said Coleman.
“I got my entire barracks to vote for me and my friends Jimmy and Eddie got their barracks to vote for me. A few other kids I knew from Fort Dodge got their barracks to vote for me, too,” he said. “I was more about getting my name out there by using other people to help me.”
To get voted attorney general, the first speeches were given to smaller groups of the Boys State assembly and Coleman felt pretty confident. Then was the speech to the entire assembly.
“That was the largest group I have ever spoken to because that (500 people) is bigger than St. Ed’s,” he said. “I got up there and gave my same speech about who I am and why I thought I should be selected.”
Later on that evening, after the candidates for all of the offices had given speeches, there was a ballot for the young men to vote. Coleman was chosen and was attorney general for one day.
“I had a lot more say in Boys State than the actual attorney general would,” he said. “I was one of seven on the executive council board. We had the final say on bills that went through. There was a lot to do in that one day.”
Coleman pointed out that Boys State wasn’t just politics. He played in the softball state championship at Boys State. Softball was among other sports the young men had to choose from.
A counselor recommended Coleman to be the representative from his barracks for Boys Nation. Coleman was one of four being considered to represent Iowa. He was an alternate but was not chosen to participate in Boys Nation.
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