Sahil Inaganti of Pennsylvania and Andrew Furman of Delaware stood beside each other on the stage at Marymount University Saturday night, waiting for the votes to be tallied in their race to become president pro tempore of Boys Nation 2018.
Forty-nine votes for Inaganti and 49 for Furman.
After nine ballots had narrowed a field of 14 candidates down to two, it would take a 10th vote to finally decide the first election of the 72nd edition of the American Legion Boys Nation program.
“Absolutely, it’s just shock,” Inaganti said after edging Furman 49-48 in a second vote.
Inaganti, representing the Nationalist party, was the top vote-getter after the first ballot, but Furman, also a Nationalist, surged ahead on the second ballot as 20 members of his section, Adams, cast their votes for him.
Inaganti was elected president pro tem at Keystone Boys State, so he was familiar with the office’s duties.
“I enjoyed that quite a bit because I was able to interact with people more than if I had been elected governor or if I had been elected to the judiciary. So being able to interact with a larger portion of the people present, that was one of the most important things coming into this,” Inaganti said. “I know just before coming to Boys Nation, it’s called ‘a week that shapes a lifetime.’ I think beyond the positions we earn, it’s the relationships that we make, and I think becoming president pro tem allows you to make possibly even more relationships than you would in other positions.”
Inaganti wants to build those bipartisan relationships that he sees lacking across the nation.
“I mentioned this in my campaign speech, ensuring everyone has a chance to speak and is able to contribute to discussion because I think that’s one of the biggest problems facing our nation is that people aren’t willing to listen to both sides of the aisle, to listen to things they might disagree with, and as pro tem I think I have a unique position. I’m able to give voice to others, to allow their viewpoints to be heard as well,” he said.
As president pro tempore, Inaganti will preside over the senate until a vice president is elected on Tuesday.
Also on Saturday, the Boys Nation senate elected Nationalist Hap Waddell of Kansas secretary of the senate. He outlasted a field of six candidates for the position, which maintains the journal of the Boys Nation senate.
“I didn’t want to run for pro tempore but I wanted to do something that I thought I would be good at. And although I have never officially been a secretary of an officially recognized club, I think that I will be able to put in enough work to be one of the best that we have,” Waddell said.
At Kansas Boys State, Waddell served as the majority whip and said one of his favorite parts of the experience was “connecting with both sides of the aisle.”
“Like I said in my (campaign) speech, I’m from the middle of nowhere, so the viewpoints available to me are quite limited. Being able to meet with people from California and Oregon and either of the coasts, that’s an amazing opportunity that I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” he said. “I think bipartisanship will be very important (here at Boys Nation). I also think that we’re at least on the right path. … Everyone seems to be at least very accepting and willing to have a discussion if they do disagree.”
More from Saturday
The senators took their oath of office and officially began submitting their bills and resolutions. That legislation can be tracked online at www.legion.org/boysnation/legislation.
The senators also received their committee assignments and met in committee for the first time. One committee covers bills that in the U.S. Senate would be assigned to the Agriculture, Nutrition, Forestry, Appropriations, Armed Services, Banking, and Housing and Urban Development committees; a second covers Budget, Commerce, Science, Transportation, Energy and Natural Resources issues; the third addresses all bills assigned to the Environment, Public Works, Finance, Foreign Relations, Government Affairs, Indian Affairs, and Intelligence committees; and the fourth considers Judiciary, Rules, Veterans Affairs, Health, Education, Labor, Pensions, Small Business, Ethics, and Aging. Committee chairmen are Federalist Ruben Banks of Mississippi, Federalist Joe Pitts of Arizona, Nationalist Ashwin Bindra of New Jersey, and Federalist Aabid Razvi of Texas.
Party chairmen were elected at party conventions, with Federalist Mark McAllister of Kansas and Nationalist Gian Zaninelli of Mississippi earning their respective party nods.
Representatives from C-SPAN talked to the senators about the network, including details on the annual student video documentary competition, StudentCam. The 2019 competition theme is “What does it mean to be an American?”, with students in grades 6-12 encouraged to choose a constitutional right, national characteristic or historic event and explain how it defines the American experience.
“I think that’s going to inform these men that partisanship isn’t always a solution, you have to have compromise. We had a massive field coming into this, but we narrowed it down through compromise. That’s a valuable lesson that everyone is able to take away from this.” – president pro tempore Sahil Inaganti, after winning election by one vote.