17-year-old high school student explains why he’s running for the Ohio House of Representatives
Sam Cao, a senior from Mason High School in Ohio, presents himself as the youngest lawmaker in the country’s history at 17.
If elected, Cao would represent District 56 in the Ohio House of Representatives, a position Rep. Paul Zeltwanger (R, OH-54) has held since 2015.
Cao is eligible on the ballot because he will turn 18 in the general election, as required by the Ohio Constitution.
In an interview with NextShark, he shares details about his grassroots campaign and why he’s running on an ’emergency’ and ‘sustainability’ platform.
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“People always focus on the presidential elections [but] State House races are just as important,” he says. “I think there is no better time than to intervene now. Because if we wait our turn, in eight or ten years our democracy will succumb to fascism, and we will have no future .
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Cao says his age is a strength, citing anti-Asian hatred, fascism and the prospect of not having a future as motivations for racing in this cycle.
“We need future generations who will have to bear this problem for decades to step in now,” he says. “And realize we have to make change, we can’t allow the same people of the status quo to stay in power, waiting for them to make the change, because they let us down. And frankly, I’ve had enough. And so what better than, you know, to get involved and fight the problem yourself.
Cao is not alone in the fight. He describes the “very positive” response from his community, saying: “I [have] a really great community and our community here in Mason, Ohio – humble Mason, Ohio – we love to support each other and we are always there for each other.
“I think everyone is so excited about the outlook, not just the fact that the youngest person to ever run in Ohio history is in our district, but we actually have a candidate for change. and someone who can lead the way for other campaigns to come,” he adds.
Although he is young compared to the other candidates, Cao notes that his age offers him “a unique perspective” and that this age should not deter young people from getting involved in politics.
“If the government affects everyone, including young people, shouldn’t their voices also be represented in the government because the laws will affect us? If we have no contribution, it’s as if we were taxed without representation. Or, you know, it’s not a real democracy.
For the majority of people who will never run for public office, Cao describes his experience as “surreal, definitely surreal.”
“Every day I wake up the first thing I do is pinch myself because it [feels] sometimes like a dream. And just the amount of attention and traction our campaign got and the number of people we inspired… we have people every day emailing us or coming up to us on the street saying: ‘Oh hey, we saw you on TV’ or ‘We saw your local article.’
Cao also shares that one of the best moments of his campaign occurred during his visit to an elementary school, where young students ended up feeling “very inspired” that “he is not necessary to be in your early thirties or late twenties”. to start making changes, you can start now.
In the first two months of his campaign, Cao racked up as many as 12,000 new Twitter followers. Even now, her social media presence is growing by 2,000 followers a week.
The Ohio House of Representatives primaries — not to be confused with congressional races — will take place on August 2, and early voting will begin on July 6.
Cao plans to continue his higher education regardless of the election results.
You can read more about Cao and his campaign on his website here.
Note: Due to the Ohio redistricting, what was previously District 54 (represented by Zeltwanger) will now be District 56.
Featured image via Sam Cao