Why Ja’Mal Green, Kat Kerwin, and Hadiya Afzal are Running for Office

Twenty-two-year-old Ja’Mal Green never planned to run for office. “It was something that I felt would corrupt you,” he tells Teen Vogue. “I’d always look at leadership and saw that politics were corrupt, and I thought we could do better on the outside.”

But now Ja’Mal is pulling 14-hour days on the campaign trail as a Democratic candidate for mayor of Chicago, challenging sitting mayor Rahm Emanuel. He’s not alone; dozens of other young people in their teens and early 20s are running for office at all levels of government in the United States, ranging from the local school board all the way up to Congress.

In Kansas, six teenagers of different political affiliations made headlines when they entered the gubernatorial race. Eighteen-year-old Gabrielle Anzalone ran for the school board in Lindenhurst, New York, after almost getting suspended for participating in the National School Walkout; she entered the race with a month to go and came up less than 300 votes short of getting elected. And 13-year-old Democrat Ethan Sonneborn is gaining respect from adults in his run for Vermont governor thanks to his policy-driven campaign.
The impact of young people’s activism and political engagement has been at the forefront of the national political conversation. Following the Parkland shooting in February, the power of young people has reached a fever pitch. The March for Our Lives — which took place in March as a response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the stream of gun violence impacting young people — has been called one of the biggest youth protests since the Vietnam War, with over 450 organized marches around the U.S. and the participant count in the millions.

Of course, while rallies and marches are integral parts of democracy, they can often feel short-term and fleeting. People usually leave asking, “What comes next?” Now young people are setting their sights on making long-lasting change by running for public office. Sure, becoming a lawmaker isn’t that glamorous; the hours are long and filled with nitpicky policy debates, angry constituents, Internet trolls, and endless fund-raising. But these young people say American politics needs an upgrade — and their solution includes getting new faces into the mix… Continue reading at teanvogue.com

Orginal Article By: TeanVogue

Author: Lily Herman

Published: 5/31/18 12:00 am

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