Running for Office As a Young Person Means Dealing With Ageism. I Did It Anyway.
In this op-ed, Illinois’ youngest latino state representative, Edgar Gonzalez Jr., discusses why he thinks young people should run for office.
This piece is being published in coordination with Sister District, an organization working to build progressive power in state legislatures. Critical and life-altering policies, including abortion access, trans rights, voting rights, fair wages, and conditions for working people and families are increasingly coming from often overlooked state legislatures rather than Washington, DC. Our “Historic Firsts” series uplifts inspiring, historic firsts among recently elected state lawmakers, with a focus on women, people of color, young folks, LGBTQIA+ folks, and folks from nontraditional backgrounds.
As a young legislator, the motives that drive your decision to run for office consistently get put under a microscope, especially when compared to those who have spent decades in their political careers. On one hand, critics often view career politicians with cynicism, assuming their motives revolve around money and power. Meanwhile, inexperienced candidates face doubts about their ability to perform the job. This contrast underscores the challenges faced by young individuals entering politics, as their motivations and capabilities are frequently questioned.