Junior runs for Kansas governor


photo by Matthew Rabinowitz

Junior Ilan Cohen has started a campaign for Kansas governor, despite not being able to vote or a citizen of Kansas.

Matthew Rabinowitz, Reporter

Ilan Cohen, a 17-year-old junior at CESJDS, is running to be governor of Kansas, even though he has never even visited the state.

When Cohen’s friend told him that minors and non-Kansas residents could run for governor of Kansas, he decided to file for his campaign.

“It just started off as a joke, and I realized there is some actual value to this, in terms of demonstrating the importance of political engagement from any age,” Cohen said.

Teen political engagement is one of the key points of Cohen’s campaign. He strongly believes that even though teenagers cannot vote, they can still influence the outcome of an election by speaking up for their beliefs.

Cohen, a staunch progressive, is also pushing for women’s rights, marriage equality, religious freedom, legalization of marijuana, gun control, more money for tax-collecting, the end of badly designed civil forfeiture laws and a higher budget to improve infrastructure.

Although Cohen has never been to Kansas, he hopes to go there when he gains enough funding, especially since he needs 5,000 signatures from Kansas citizens to be placed on the independent ballot, which is about .2 percent of the population of Kansas.

Some people do not believe that Cohen has a chance at being elected.

“He’s a Jewish, white kid from Maryland, running for governor of Kansas and he’s a teenager, so I don’t think he will get [elected], but I can have hopes that he will,” junior Nathan Rashti, a friend of Cohen’s, said.

A major issue for Cohen is balancing school and campaigning. He said that he will try to remain devoted to the people of Kansas, though, even as he gets closer to senior year and college applications. He also hopes that even if he is not elected, his campaign messages will spread.

Missing too many days of school to campaign could be an issue, though. Dean of Students Roslyn Landy said that a student is allowed to miss 10 classes a semester with parental consent, but any more could result in a ten percent grade reduction.

“However, there are extenuating circumstances, and we would have to look into those circumstances before making any decision,” Landy said.

Campaigning, fundraising and any other sort of political activity are not allowed on the school campus, however.

Cohen is not the only teen running for governor of Kansas, as other teens have noticed the gap in the Kansas laws and have decided to run as well. Unlike Cohen, the majority of these teens are actually Kansas residents.

Despite this, Cohen believes that he is a good candidate to address Kansas’ needs.

“Kansas is in the lowest 15 states or so economically right now, and trying to make Kansas have a strong, functioning economy, good education and good healthcare will really try to improve Kansas and the quality of lives of the people of Kansas which is really important to us,” Cohen said.