Pablo Gonzalez, a 21-year-old Latino student at Central Washington University, has decided to run for the position of state representative for the Democratic Party in the newly created 15th district, according to Fox News.
The district, located around Yakima County, has a Latino majority population.
Despite the fact that Hispanic activist groups helped push for the creation of the new district, none of these groups have so far endorsed a candidate, and Gonzalez has become the first Latino to submit a bid for public office.
Gonzalez’s run for candidacy has brought in attention not only because of his Latino heritage, but because of his age and classification as a student. Traditionally students have been criticized for apathy when it comes to politics. For the most part, young adults do show disinterest in candidates and voting. However, students have deep concerns about how the government affects their daily lives.
Anyone who spends a few minutes listening to the conversations of students around campus at lunch time will hear snippets about the current economic climate, concerns over eventual job searching, tuition prices, paying for apartments and frustration of not being able to drink legally. All of this has to do with politics. In fact, it’s harder for students to avoid talking about politics than they think.
In the last 10 years, though student involvement has gone up. For example, in 2008 during the presidential election students actually saw a record high of involvement with 11.7 percent of college freshmen saying they were involved in campaign work at some level of government, which was up from 8.9 percent in 2004, according to USA Today.
President Barack Obama now faces an upwards battle, though as the student base which helped project him into the white house in 2008 has become highly disillusioned with the once young and charismatic politician, according to the Rolling Stone, who feel abandoned by the president once he entered the White House.
Student political involvement clearly has its ups and downs, but that does not detract from the importance of action. Partly because of Obama’s strong base of student support in 2008 he was able to win the election. Government permeates our lives and standing on the sidelines during election years, and instead complaining about the lack of economic regulation or the desire to be able to drink at 18, accomplishes nothing.
Gonzalez’s bold action in attempting to represent a population who has for the majority gone unheard in our government, particularly at the young age of 21 should be a message to all of us. No matter your age, ethnicity or beliefs, you can make a change in this world.