Kansas: 16-Year-Old Running for Governor, Plans to Legalize
Jack Bergeson, 16, a Wichita high school student, is running for Kansas governor
By Michael Bachara
Even though he won’t be able to legally cast a vote, Jack Bergeson, a 16-year-old from Wichita, is running for Governor of Kansas in 2018. His political platform includes legalizing marijuana for social use.
“Under Kansas law, there is no law governing the qualifications for governor, not one,” said Bryan Caskey, director of elections at the Kansas secretary of state’s office. “So there’s seriously nothing on the books that lays out anything, no age, no residency, no experience. Nothing.”
“I thought, you know, let’s give the people of Kansas a chance,” Bergeson said. “Let’s try something new that has never really been tried anywhere else before.”
Bergeson says his run for the Democratic nomination as an “anti-establishment” campaign will focus on bringing “a clean slate.”
“I’m getting in to give the people a chance,” Bergeson said. “It doesn’t matter much if I win or lose. I’m giving people the option.”
“I think if you offer the people of Kansas something radical, something new so then that shows that we can move in a new direction, I think that will put the Democratic Party in a good position to win the seat next year,” Bergeson said.
Alexander Cline, 17, a classmate of Bergeson’s, plans to be the lieutenant governor.
Michael Smith, a political scientist at Emporia State University, said, “If this guy is at all reasonable, it could be a very good thing. It’s always such challenge to get young people to politically engage. I’m not saying he’ll win the nomination or anything, but if he could talk to other, maybe not 16-year-olds but people just turning 18 and get them to engage, I mean it could be a really good thing.”
Bergerson’s announcement received national attention, including an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
"One of the major things I want is to get kids involved in politics," Bergeson told the talk show host Kimmel, in a live video link from his bedroom at his parents' house in Wichita.
"We understand that many do not take young people seriously when they run for office," Bergeson said, "but once voters hear our unique message of a platform that takes the best of both sides, we believe Kansans will understand that the old way of politics is no longer viable for a government that should be working with and understanding them."
Jack Bergeson’s political platform:
Increase minimum wage – $12 to $15 per hour
Overhaul Health Care system in Kansas
Supports Open Carry Gun Law
No increased taxes on families making less than $60K per year
7.5% increase in teacher pay
Expand Amtrak service
Grassroots campaign financing only (no donations greater than $500)