Youngest candidate out to win

William Molls hopes to take St. Paul's for the NDP

Easing through the crowd, William Molls tries to get some face time with Jack Layton, who is on his way out of a recent NDP rally in St. Paul’s.

As Molls points out, even after hip surgery the federal NDP leader can still move pretty quick.

The RCMP detail guarding Layton keeps a tight perimeter, but Molls is not just any fresh-faced voter.

“Mr. Layton!” Molls shouts. “I’m your youngest candidate!”

It grabs the leader’s attention. However, the exchange results in little more than a brief handshake, as Layton’s handlers run off with him to the next campaign stop.

At 23, Molls isn’t just interested in how government is run. He’s also running for government.

Molls grew up in the Davisville area, but moved with his family to Stratford when he was eight. He would return to the neighbourhood of his youth years later, to attend Ryerson University where he studied radio and television arts.

While most politically-inclined grads might choose to volunteer with another politician’s campaign, Molls began his own.

“No one was talking about issues I felt were the most important,” Molls said in an interview. “That’s part of the reason I threw my hat in the ring — because I wanted a chance to cast some light on these issues.”

Molls impressed many in October’s municipal elections, when he ran for city council in Ward 22. He finished with only about 4 percent of the vote, but instead of being discouraged he set his sights even higher.

He is the NDP candidate for St. Paul’s in the May 2 federal election.

By all accounts, Molls had no shot against Liberal incumbent Carolyn Bennett. That’s okay, though. He said he’s used to being overlooked and underestimated.

“I know, just like during the council race, it’s going to be a long shot but that’s where I thrive,” Molls said. “I love being the underdog.”

Constant second-guessing of his age and limited experience made the uphill battle even steeper, he said.

“It’s so frustrating to hear people say, ‘Well, I might vote for you in four years,’ ” Molls said. “Well, I’m running now. If you like me, vote for me now.”

Layton says he was thrilled with Molls’ candidacy.

“I don’t buy this argument that just because he’s in his mid-20s that he is too young,” Layton said over the phone from the campaign trail. “It’s an uphill challenge, but then again he’s a very enthusiastic young leader who has shown that he’s got good ideas.”

About this article:

By: Tristan Carter
Posted: Apr 20 2011 4:42 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto