Vermont Teen Running for Governor

August 14, 2018 Updated: August 15, 2018

One candidate in the Vermont Governor’s race is unusually young.

Young, as in “not old enough to drive.” Young as in “about to be a freshman in high school.” Young as in he is only 14.

Ethan Sonneborn is taking advantage of the fact that Vermont places no age restriction on candidates for its highest office. He’s been a resident for four years and has collected enough signatures to get on the ballot.

“I think my campaign transcends age,” he explained.

“I want people to think of me as a pragmatic progressive who happens to be 14.”

Ethan Sonneborn is running for Governor in Vermont
Sonneborn says he decided to run for office after becoming fed up with politics as usual. (Buzz Kuhns/Ethan 2018 Campaign via AP)

Sonneborn was motivated to get involved in politics after watching the news reporting on gridlock and ideological rigidity, with nobody willing to compromise across party lines.

“I had a culmination of frustration with politics as usual,” he told Fox News. “It reached a boiling point after Charlottesville,” referring to clashes between protesters in August 2017. Sonneborn registered for the Governor’s race later that month.

Sonneborn told NBC that he believed in governing by building coalitions. He cited Robert F. Kennedy as a role model in that respect.

During a debate hosted by Vermont’s Channel 17, Sonneborn proved himself to be as well-spoken and as well-versed on the issues—at least on a conversational level—as the other candidates.

Sonneborn explained that his age would be a benefit, not a drawback.

“I am obviously very different than the other four candidates at this table,” Sonneborn said in Channel 17 debate. “I think I am the candidate who best represents the change we need in Montpelier.”

“Our campaign is about making sure that when government gets down to it, we are making people’s lives better,” he said in his closing remarks.

Win or lose, Ethan Sonneborn felt that his running for office was the right thing to do.

He told NBC news, “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.”


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