14-year-old Ethan Sonneborn is too young to vote, but that isn’t stopping him from running to be the next Governor of Vermont.
Youth activism has been on the rise in 2018. After the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, it was students who took action. Teenagers nationwide united in the March for our Lives, Teenagers led social causes from diversity to explaining how periods impact poverty.
And in 2018, a 14-year-old is seeking a governorship. While he is part of the cultural moment of youth activism following Parkland, he traced his political origin to the white supremacist march last August in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“”I think what pushed me over the edge were the events in Charlottesville,” Sonneborn said in an interview with the Washington Post. “It was the first time I had this realization that a new generation of leaders would be better.”
Sonneborn is campaigning on a progressive platform including a workers’ bill of rights, Medicare for All, higher wages and taxes on carbon emissions.
Though there have been detractors, Sonneborn characterized them as internet hecklers, and said very few Vermonters he spoke to thought he was too young to be governor. Under Vermont law, he is an eligible candidate and will appear on Tuesday’s ballot.
Polls show that we can beat Phil Scott. Can you help us bring progressive values back to the governor’s office by chipping in to our revolutionary campaign? https://t.co/qEspXiQygn
— Ethan Sonneborn (@RealESonneborn) July 25, 2018
There were actually efforts to stop Sonneborn. Two Vermont lawmakers tried to pass legislation requiring candidates be registered voters, but that legislation never passed. Republican Governor Phil Scott, who is seeking re-election, said he thought a governor should at least be able to drive.
Sonneborn is running against another historic candidate, Christine Hallquist. While he would be the youngest governor (Stevens Mason is the current youngest governor in history at 19), she would be the first transgender governor. Either, though, would need to defeat Scott in November.
While Sonneborn faces a tough road to the governorship, he doesn’t let long odds dissuade him.
“I think if I can get one person who wasn’t involved in the political process before involved now, then my campaign will have been a success,” he said.
You can follow results as they come in via the New York Times.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.