“A lot of guys can’t say they’ve taken their girlfriend to the White House.”And he doesn’t mean on the tour offered to the public. He means dinner. He means meeting the president of the United States. And he has a picture of the three of them to prove it.For Ohio Day 1995, that guy was Mike Sexton and that girlfriend is now his wife.It is just one of the perks of being a young politico in America.Michael E. Sexton, manager of the Franklin County Board of Elections, has spent his life working within the machinery of the Democratic Party.At an age when most kids were adapting to the regimen of pre-school, Sexton began his education on the campaign trail. His father, who has been working in public education for 40 years, is a guidance counselor and is involved with political action in the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers. He took his then 5-year-old son Mike out on his first campaign-to elect the now retired Ohio Democratic Sen. Howard Metzenbaum.”I remember meeting Metzenbaum when I was real little, actually when he ran and got beat in 1970,” Sexton said.As most kids growing up in the Western Hills area of Cincinnati, Sexton rooted for the Bengals and the Reds. He also rooted for the Democrats.His days of being a family apprentice came to an end in 1983 when he elected to attend Ohio State. Sexton began to find his own niche within the Democratic Party.When Sexton arrived in Columbus, Republican Mayor Tom Moody ran things. Moody’s fumbling transgressions with the law had made the line, “I’m not drunk, I’m inspecting the city,” into a popular Columbus bumper sticker. The new Republican candidate for mayor was the young upstart Dana “Buck” Rinehart.”When I came here, I volunteered on a mayor’s race in 1983. We lost. Rinehart beat Mike Dorrian. I also got involved with the College Democrats and the Young Democrats of America,” Sexton said.Sexton also went to work for the Democratic caucus on the floor of the Ohio House of Representatives.”You can be in student government or work on the House floor as a page. I’d rather be a page,” Sexton said.The practical over the theoretical: This is a choice he also made in his formal education at OSU.Sexton passed on the common political majors of history, political science and law to get his degree in social work. He earned his bachelor’s in 1987 and his master’s in 1990.”Social work to me is more of an interactive profession, while political science is studying politics. I’m not into political theories. I’m more into political action. The reason I majored in social work is that I like to get out and work with people and try to help them make a difference. That is why I work with the Democrats. That’s what they’re supposed to do when they get elected.”The Young Democrats of America is the official organization for Democrats under the age of 36. Sexton’s involvement, since his early days at OSU, reached a climax in 1995 when he was elected national president. It provided him with an opportunity to be out in front during President Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign. It also afforded him the opportunity to serve as a party delegate to the 1996 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.”It’s very exciting. There are long hours and you listen to a lot of speeches, but you get to see a wide variety of officials speak. And there’s this thing about being in the room when the president of the United States is speaking. It’s hard to explain, but it’s on prime-time television and Clinton’s giving a 66-minute speech. It’s not like you’re getting tired halfway through.”The 1995 Ohio Day and the 1996 Democratic Convention are only two of the special events Sexton has attended. He has been to the annual White House Holiday Party and attended the 1993 and 1997 Inauguration Days for President Clinton.”I always had a goal to go to an Inaugural and a convention. I’d rather go to the next Inaugural for Al Gore than go to the (2000) convention.”Since completing his term as president of the Young Democrats of America in 1997, Sexton has continued his efforts in Columbus. He worked on Janet Jackson’s campaign for city attorney in 1997, Anthony Celebreeze’s race for clerk of courts in 1998, Michael Coleman’s bid for mayor in 1999, and he is currently on the trail for Lori M. Tyack who is running for Franklin County recorder.”Some I choose to work on, and others are chosen for me. I tend to work on the targeted areas,” he said.Sexton added, “We have turned this city around. Out of these four races, we’ve won two and lost one. I think it’s a challenge to elect Democrats to office.””He’s been active locally for many years and is someone I rely on quite often,” said Dennis L. White, chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Party. “He’s our go-to guy.””I like the events where you can go out and meet and talk to people. Plus, it’s fun,” Sexton said.”But it’s also a democracy, and you’ve got to fight and make sure your people get in there. If you’re a Democrat, you have to be focused on getting Democrats elected to office because they’re going to be much more in tune with the beliefs you have for the city, county and country than their Republican counterparts. You want to get good quality elected officials in there so they can serve the citizens.”Serving Democratic constituencies is something Sexton has known since he was 5-years-old. He has been behind the scenes. He has been in front. Is he the next young upstart in Columbus?”I’ve never ruled out running. I did just get elected committeeman in the 15th Senate District in the Democratic Primary. That’s the first time I’ve been on the ballot. It’s an important district and I ran unopposed.”It’s all timing.”And for Sexton, it’s also still about family. Before meeting Mike, his wife Colleen was not involved in politics. After attending party functions with him, her participation changed.”Just by meeting the candidates and getting to know them, I wanted to help them out,” Colleen Sexton said.Mike Sexton is a delicate balance of a government know-how and a campaign insider. A mixture of Democratic idealism and of bureaucratic and campaign pragmatism. He’s lost. He’s won. But to Sexton, the wins matter only in that the people are better served by leaders who best represent their interests. For Sexton, the stakes are high-in every single election, every single year.