How Young is Too Young to Run for Election?

How young is too young to run for election?  This subject came up in an earlier blog post that discussed potential sheriff candidates.    A reader shared that he thought that one local Sheriff’s deputy, were he to run for sheriff, would be way too young.  See comment.  That surprised me a little bit.  I always assumed that a person in their mid-thirties was in pretty solid territory age-wise to run for a job for a local elected official.  I may be a little biased because when I was elected prosecuting attorney in 1998, I was only 28 years old. I have to admit, I felt a little iffy about stepping into the political ring at that age. But at the time I was aware that our state representative, Cathy McMorris, was only 29.   Cathy McMorris was elected to the State Legislature when she was only 24.   Cathy McMorris (now known as Cathy McMorris Rodgers) went on to become the State legislature’s minority leader, and later was elected to US congress at age 35.

The subject of  a suitable age of an elected official has arisen recently in the political campaign for prosecuting attorney in Grant County.   Earlier this year a deputy prosecutor by the name of Angus Lee was appointed to step in to replace John Knodell who was elected judge.   Angus Lee was appointed by the commissioners.   Angus Lee is 32 years old, and is a 2004 graduate of law school.  When I was elected prosecuting attorney at 28, the issue that was the hardest for me was managing people and running an office.   I think the trial work can pretty much be handled by any prosecutor with a few years under his or her belt.   In Grant County, Angus Lee has a pretty big office to run, and lately his office has had a lot of turnover, as other prosecutors get used to their new boss.    I don’t know Angus Lee too well because I have only had one case with him.

I read in the Spokesman Review last week that an 18-year-old high school senior by the name of Greg Ridgley was running for city council in Spokane.  Now an 18-year-old on city council would be pretty interesting, don’t you think?   Greg Ridgley’s campaign seems pretty low key right now.   When I looked him up online, he didn’t have a web page up.    I had court in Spokane this morning and I looked all over for his campaign signs but I didn’t see any.  Ridgley has a facebook page that discussed his campaign and his recent trip to Australia as a youth ambassador.  My suggestion to him would be to promote his campaign as much as possible on the internet.  The use of the internet in politics is a very hot topic in the media.  See for example the debate of Jennifer Gregerson’s use of Twitter.  See article.  It seems that if Greg Ridgley found a way to use the internet for his campaign in a novel way, he would garner more attention.  Greg Ridgley is going to be a senior at Gonzaga Prep and is running as a Republican.  The funniest thing about Greg Ridgley’s campaign is the interesting comments that people have made about his campaign on the internet.   None of the comments have been disparaging.  One Spokane resident posted a comment that Greg Ridgley “has to have more sense then the rest of them and he has not had much of a chance to be corrupted.” Another wrote of Ridgley “Pure honesty and interest to help the community. No good old boys to owe. Fresh. Clean. Passionate. Way to go. The rest of his peers who can vote will be doing it”.

What would people think about an 18-year-old senior running for city council in Republic, or Colville or Okanogan?  It seems like people would be more receptive to an 18-year-old on a city council, rather than in a position of mayor where more power is placed in a single position.   An 18-year-old running for sheriff would seem to pose a problem.   Under State law, a person has to be 21 to carry a hand gun.

As for me, I would not have a problem voting for a person in their 30’s for sheriff.  What do you all think?

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Photo of Steve Graham Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer, and he splits his time between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. Visit his website by clicking: www.grahamdefense.com
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