By Carla Charter
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In Vermont, as in many other state gubernatorial races, there are a wide range of candidates with wide ranging points of view. Vermont though, has one candidate who is a little younger than most, 13 year old Ethan Sonneborn. In Vermont, there are no age requirements. Vermont only requires that gubernatorial candidates be a resident of the state for four years. Sonneborn is a lifelong Vermont resident.
“I first learned in April that I was eligible to run for governor. My parents weren’t surprised when I told them I had made the decision to run. I had been considering it and we had had some discussions about it. I made the final decision on my own. I made a gut call after Charlottesville. I officially announced my candidacy in late August.”
“I decided to run after Charlottesville because I saw a White Nationalist kill a woman and saw the president fail to condemn it. I was angry and saddened. I felt that all the progress that was made in this country was slowly eroding because we had elected a president who couldn’t condemn White Nationalists.”
Sonneborn is running as a democrat. “I feel I have good support in the rank and file of the Democratic Party.” The Vermont Democratic Party does not endorse a candidate until after the Primary, on August 14. “My teachers and friends have been very supportive,” he continued, “It is great to have the community behind me like this.”
Sonneborn said he has been interested in politics and history his whole life. “I was particularly interested in how people build coalitions, like Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. did. I felt like politics was one of the best ways to build a coalition. He continued, “I’m really interested in how divided we’ve become. I believe the divisions come from the whole philosophy that we have in this country that good fences make good neighbors, I don’t believe it’s true.”
Sonneborn said his contemporary role models include Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama and his historical role models include Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and Robert Kennedy.
He said he would like to pursue a political career as an adult, although he said he is not interested in any specific office at the moment. “Right now, I am focused on serving Vermont. I want to keep fighting for the issues that matter to me.”
Sonneborn said his platform for governor is based on “kitchen table issues, the issues that affect people in their every day lives. These include the economy, healthcare and education. I support Universal Health Care and the legalization of marijuana. I support an assault weapons ban as well as stronger background checks.”
As for the biggest issues facing Vermont, Sonneborn said, “I really see a struggle between moderate democrats and progressive democrats. We struggled with the public health care option because there weren’t votes for it in the legislature. Moderate democrats could not agree to because it was too liberal and the Progressives could not agree to it as it was too moderate, so we ended up with a watered-down plan with Vermont Health Connect. I would like to see a public healthcare option if not Universal Health Care. “
Sonneborn said, “I believe the best way to keep markets stable is Universal Health Care on a Federal level. I as well as many Vermonters are losing patience with Congress regarding Universal Health Care. Depending on how mid-terms go, if the Democrats take both houses I would give them more time to work on healthcare. If they don’t take both houses I think we should start designing a Universal Healthcare plan for Vermont.”
As for other national concerns he said “It’s not just that we are in a very tumultuous time in this country I think that the president has made very, very bad decisions and the biggest challenge is that Congress is not holding him accountable. “
When Sonneborn is not campaigning or at school he likes to read, fish and play basketball. More information on Sonneborn’s campaign can be found at www.ethansonneborn.com and on Facebook at ethansonnebornforgov. Sonneborn ‘s campaign also has a presence on Instagram, Twitter and Youtube.
The Vermont Democratic Primary is on August 14 and the General Election is on November 6. Two candidate forums will be held for the Vermont Gubernatorial race, one in April and another in June.