While the 2016 presidential election had some of the oldest candidates in American history, some very young candidates are seeking office at the local level.
Morning Shift talks with three candidates from the Chicago area. All three are Democrats, and all three are seeking office for the first time.
Berto Aguayo, 24, is a community organizer who has led anti-violence protests with The Resurrection Project and has mentored young men of color in former President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper program. He hopes to unseat Alderman Raymond Lopez in Chicago’s 15th ward on the southwest side.
At 22, Ja’Mal Green is the youngest candidate in history to run for mayor of Chicago. He’s started his own nonprofit Majostee Allstars that works with schools to teach nonviolence. He has also served as a surrogate for the Bernie Sanders campaign.
And Hadiya Afzal, 18, is a student at DePaul University. She’s running for the Dupage County Board in District 4, which includes Wheaton, Glen Ellyn and surrounding communities.
On running against more experienced candidates
Ja’mal Green: No matter what you’ve done in the past, that does not mean that you’re gonna be good in a political position. Experience is: What’s your experience in the community?...How are you going to put forth a plan to solve a lot of these different problems that are going on in the city?
On diverse representation in local government
Hadiya Afzal: I found that there was a huge lack of representation of the people who made up [DuPage] County….Only one democrat, four women [out of 18 county board members], and no people of color. And this is a county that voted for Clinton by 14 points in 2016, that is, shockingly, half female, and that has people of color. We do exist. I’m living proof!
How social media is changing campaigns
Berto Aguayo: In the 1970s, a young, 24-year-old candidate would not be able to touch 10 thousand, 15 thousand people and send a message to those folks. In today’s day and age, I think, all of us here have pretty large social media followings. So we don’t have to spend all that much money on getting our message out there.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
GUESTS: Berto Aguayo, community organizer and candidate for alderman of Chicago’s 15th ward
Ja’Mal Green, founder of Majostee Allstars, a youth mentorship organization, and candidate for Chicago mayor
Hadiya Afzal, student at DePaul University and candidate, Dupage County Board District 4
LEARN MORE: Young community organizer ‘Berto’ Aguayo announces candidacy for alderman of Chicago’s 15th Ward (Chicago Tribune 8/2/18)
Ja’Mal Green: 22-Year-Old Activist Sets Sights on City Hall (WTTW 4/24/18)
Hadiya Afzal: Candidate Profile (Daily Herald 2/13/18)