opinion   |   column

COLUMN: The kid who ran for governor in Vermont had a serious platform



As of Tuesday Christine Hallquist won the Democratic primary for governor in Vermont.  One of her opponents Ethan Sonneborn, however, captured public attention because he wasn't even old enough to vote. Although he did not win, his candidacy has proven the need for other candidates to listen to the youngest generation.

He was running on a progressive platform, focusing on universal healthcare, non-discriminative employment for members of the LGBT community, stricter regulations on carbon emissions, a higher state minimum wage and reformed education.

The most attention that he has gotten has been about his age, but he announced his candidacy long ago, and by now his age should be old news. 

“I think Vermonters should take me seriously because I have practical progressive ideas, and I happen to be 14, not the other way around,” Sonneborn said during a televised forum.  

Sure, this was new, exciting and maybe even a little funny. But nevertheless, Sonneborn has gotten the attention he needs to let his voice be heard; now it is our turn to hear what he has to say.  

Even though he has now lost the party’s bid for the gubernatorial race, he has provided the world with a unique opportunity for a loud voice to come from his generation, where it would not otherwise exist.  

Hallquist and Phil Scott, incumbent governor and Republican nominee, ought to take this opportunity to tailor their platforms to speak to the youngest generation, even if they are too young to vote.  

Sonneborn received over 8 percent of the votes in the Democratic primary race, which is enough of the population to show that he got through to people.  

On his website he advocated for stricter gun laws. He claims that his generation is often targeting, and that he can provide a stronger voice to protect them.

"It's a culture that I respect," he said, "but if it's making the decision between letting my friends have a good time at a firing range and them possibly being involved in a school shooting, I'm choosing legislation to protect them from that school shooting.”

Considering this, the least that the current nominees can do is listen to his call to action and recognize the importance to protect that generation.  

Furthermore, voters and politicians alike need to use him as a strong voice coming from his generation to be able to adequately represent those who cannot yet vote on their behalf.  

Sonneborn claimed that a major reason for his candidacy was because he saw “apathy from young people in (his) community.” He advocated for youth political engagement and active environmental protections, because he knew that it affected his generation the most.  

This has provided the perfect opportunity for other government representatives to verbally recognize the needs of young people and make it a point to add it to their policy agendas.  

Instead of gawking at the fact that Ethan Sonneborn is unusually young to be running for this position, let us notice the importance of it and make it a point to hear the needs of the next generation.

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