David Pelikan paced around the group party space of the Cedars III bowling alley in Cedarburg on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

He was joined by his father, Jim, and a group of his classmates, many of whom were wearing "Vote for Pelikan" T-shirts.

They went back and forth between two television screens in the corners that were updating with results of the general election.

The results would eventually say the Cedarburg High School senior lost his bid for the 60th State Assembly District by a margin of 72 percent to 27 percent, to incumbent Republican Robert Brooks.

It was the first election for the young politician, who ran as an independent. He fed off the energy of his friends while also remaining tempered by his father's calm demeanor. It was a contrast in moods that would be tough to balance for any politician on election night. The nervous excitement was even harder for David, who entered politics at an age when he is not even old enough to vote for himself.

Pelikan's 27 percent represented a little less than 6,800 votes in favor of the 17-year-old serving in public office (if elected, he would turn 18 before taking office).

From an early age, Pelikan exhibited a love of knowledge and sharing of knowledge that astounded his father.

"We'd be driving somewhere and pass a farm, and David would just start rattling off facts about silos," said Jim Pelikan. "Why would anyone, especially as a little kid, know all that information? Because he read about them and just soaked up all those facts."

The subject that David Pelikan always enjoyed most was politics. When he found out that he could run for public office as a high school student, he went to work on his platform and campaign in the quintessential space for all high school students to brainstorm: a garage.

His friend Joshua Wankowski recalled jotting down ideas in that garage; he cannot believe the campaign came full circle.

"It's been such a roller-coaster ride on this campaign," said Wankowski. "The fact that so many people took this campaign seriously makes it even crazier."

Pelikan's campaign was based on the mantra of "cooperative democracy," a bipartisan approach to making compromises and reaching solutions faster. It was the reason Pelikan chose to run as an independent.

"I have beliefs and ideas that can be labeled Republican or Democrat," he explained. "I wanted people to understand that it is possible to move past this partisan warfare in order to make real progress in Wisconsin."

His talking points included reinvesting in the education system, preventing overspending in the corrections department and preventing tax increases to ensure a balanced budget.

Even as the results of the election came in and it became clear that he would lose, he held his head high and took an enormous pride in what he accomplished.

"I see my numbers, and I see over 25 percent of the Cedarburg community believing in me and believing in cooperative democracy," Pelikan said. "This is certainly not the end for me in politics because there are people who believe in me and believe in what I stand for, and I will continue to try to serve them."

Brooks, who has served since 2014, was unavailable for comment on election night.

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