By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Alek Skarlatos became an undisputed hero on both sides of the pond when he and two friends foiled a jihadist attack on a train bound for Paris in the summer of 2015. Alek and his friends were featured in the movie, The 15:17 to Paris, which was directed by Clint Eastwood. Eastwood felt that no one would be better portraying their stories than the guys who were there, and we talked about it in a previous edition of Athens Now.

Alek’s fame increased when he became a contestant on Dancing with the Stars during the 2015 season, and he and his dance partner Lindsay Arnold came in third. In 2016, Alek and his friends Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler appeared on an episode of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Alek served in the National Guard from 2012-2017, finishing his military career as a specialist. He served in Afghanistan; and his awards, both as a result of the train incident as well as from Operation Enduring Freedom, are the French Knight of the Legion of Honor and the United States Army Soldiers’ Medal. After leaving the Guard, he was in demand all across the country for public speaking engagements.

Now Alek has announced his candidacy for the position of Douglas County Commissioner in the State of Oregon. Alek is from Roseburg, located in the western part of the state, and if elected wants to do all he can to bring jobs to the county, which like ours is in a rural area. He also is hoping to bring his county industrial jobs for skilled-trade workers. “I’ve travelled all over the world, and there’s no place I’d rather live than Douglas County, honestly,” he says. Alek is running for the slot vacated by Republican Gary Leif, who is seeking a seat in the Oregon State legislature.

Skarlatos feels that being able to serve as county commissioner would provide him an opportunity to stand up for values he believes in, as well as to represent a younger generation. “I think the political climate has led a lot of younger people to become interested in politics, myself included,” Skarlatos said. “I just hope to move Douglas County in a better direction.”

Supporters have described Alek as “humble and impressive,” “exceptional,” as well as someone who is a Constitutionalist. Detractors don’t care for the fact that Skarlatos is a Republican and a supporter of President Donald Trump. Cynics are trying to claim that he is using his role in averting a crisis for his own purposes, and that he couldn’t possibly care for his county. His former National Guard unit is backing him, and it appears he has a good chance of winning, although it’s early in the race.

For my part, here is something that I think is a plus, and not something Alek is mentioning: he is a trained sniper. When I was in Iraq, I got the chance to get to know snipers, one of whom became like a son, and if there is one thing they are able to do, it is to be patient. They do well in the most dreadful of surroundings, and they are fiercely loyal to their battle buddies. I say, “May Alek Skarlatos do well in this race,” and to him, I say, “Thank you for your service, wherever that takes you.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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