Legal Quirk Allows Vermont Teen's Gubernatorial Bid

The state doesn't have an age requirement for holding the office
By Josh Gardner,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2018 5:30 PM CDT
14-Year-Old Vermont Boy is Running for Governor
Ethan Sonneborn, of Bristol, Vt., is one of the four Democrats seeking the state's nomination for governor.   (Buzz Kuhns/Ethan 2018 Campaign via AP)

He's only 14 but that isn't stopping Ethan Sonneborn from running for Vermont's top office. The rising high school freshman from Bristol is taking advantage of the state's lack of an age requirement to hold the office to take his place among the other Democrats on the primary ballot this Tuesday, per the AP. Vermont only requires that a candidate have been a resident of the state for the prior four years. As his website says (yes, he has a website), Ethan has lived in Vermont for all of his 14 years. As the AP notes, Ethan recently took the opportunity of a gubernatorial forum to tell voters exactly why age is just a number. "I think Vermonters should take me seriously because I have practical progressive ideas, and I happen to be 14, not the other way around," he said. "I think that my message and my platform transcend age."

Ethan has named issues central to his campaign as healthcare reform, economic development, and education while espousing smarter gun laws and speaking out as "a dedicated champion for middle and working class families" per his website. Most importantly, though, Ethan says he cares about the Vermonters he's running to represent. “You don’t have to be a Kennedy or a famous minister to be a coalition builder,” he told the Boston Globe. “You just have to have an issue you care about and be willing to speak out on your platform.” Vermont is one of only two states without an age requirement for statewide office. The other is Kansas, where six teens have similar designs to Ethan's. (Read more Vermont stories.)

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