A dog and six teenagers are running for Governor in the upcoming Kansas 2018 elections due to the lack of legal requirements.

Three of the teens are running for the Republican party nomination, one for the Democratic party, one Libertarian, and one Independent. These candidacies show it is important for young people to exercise their political rights in whatever way they can. These teenagers are crossing the lines between parties in ways that only young people can. However, lack of experience in government seems to be a problem for some of the candidates, as can be seen in rushed platforms and economically impractical proposals.   

The strongest of these teenage candidates are Jack Bergeson and Tyler Ruzich, who address important issues and offer solutions that could work.

Bergeson, a 17-year-old Democrat, states that education is an issue that he will address. He promises to give Kansas public school teachers a 7.5% pay raise, which he would fund by making marijuana legal and taxable in Kansas. But Bergeson doesn’t believe that winning is everything. “It doesn’t matter much if I win or lose. I’m giving people the option,” he says. All of the teens have a low chance of winning, but Bergeson’s chance of winning is the highest, as he has been the only one invited to participate in events with older candidates from his party. He also wants more young people to get involved in voting because it gives them a chance for their ideas to be heard. Bergeson believes in the Second Amendment, as the majority of Kansans do, but thinks that there should be rigorous background checks and a ban on semi-automatic weapons.

Ruzich, a Republican, also believes in the importance of education and gun safety. In fact, Bergeson inspired Ruzich to run and encouraged him to do so on social media. Ruzich said, “I thought that was just so cool that someone my age was doing that…He really started to tell me, well, why aren’t you throwing your hat in the race?” This inspiration is especially important because it shows that there can be unity between people of different parties. Ruzich also supports the Second Amendment but wants to repeal the recently passed law that allows guns to be carried on the campuses of public universities in Kansas. This is controversial with his fellow Republicans in Kansas, but he nevertheless believes that it needs to be addressed. Ruzich also proposes a moderate tax increase for businesses with over 50 employees, but not for any small businesses.

Aaron Coleman is running as an Independent. Although he has some constructive ideas, such as putting body cameras on police to monitor them, many of the solutions he suggests would lead to further problems. Coleman wants to raise the minimum wage to seventeen dollars an hour, provide universal medicare, and make tuition for universities and community colleges free. He offers these expensive ideas, however, with no explanation for how the government will pay for them.  

Ethan Randleas is running on behalf of the Libertarian party. He wants to lower taxes, give the government less power, pardon non-violent drug offenders, and restrict abortions.  

There are candidates from many different parties running, but they share similar policies. They all want to reform the Kansas education system, and most of them want background checks for guns. Traditionally, older voters have carried the votes. This seems to be changing now because the effects of recent school shootings, especially in Parkland, Florida, as well as the 2016 election results that have inspired young people to get involved in politics. It is good to be passionate about running, but we must also focus on voting.

In the 2016 election, less than half of all eligible voters age 18-29 cast their ballots. Around seventy-two percent of citizens above the age of 60 exercised their right to vote. Clearly, older people are influencing the issues that affect the younger generation. This causes younger generations’ opinions to be overlooked even though we will live in this country longer than older folks. It’s important to applaud the young candidates from Kansas who are running, but we must also encourage young people to contribute to politics—and that starts with voting.