Jessica Sarrach ‘24, Lyonlife.org Editor-in-Chief
In 1797, William Charles Cole Claiborne was elected into Congress as the youngest member to ever join the House. Claiborne was a jarring 22 years old when first elected and has held his title as the youngest Congress member to this day. Now, in 2022, 19-year-old Sam Lawrence has joined the race for Ohio’s congressional House of Representatives, making him one of the youngest people to ever run for congressional office. Though Lawrence did not win, he put forth a valiant effort in the race, earning 35 percent of the votes.
This February, Ohio’s political field was shaken when Lawrence joined the race for representative. His young age made it hard for many Ohioans to take the campaign completely seriously, but for others, it insightend new ambition in the face of politics. Lawrence himself said, “I saw, frankly, a lack of young people in our government…I think it’s important that young people get involved and so [this] opportunity made itself present and I jumped on it.”
As a campaign like Lawrence’s is rarely seen, his political effort drew the eyes and ears of the youth and worked to spark political interest in the new generation. Senior Ava Nevitt said, “It’s really cool because he’s accomplishing so much at such a young age when many people don’t accomplish anything in their life.”
Lawerence’s campaign was founded on three fundamental ideas: transparency, cooperation, and equality. Though the Ohio House of Representatives has been voted the most corrupt in the nation by the Directors Guild of America, Lawrence believes he can help combat this by pushing for more transparency. With a democratic disposition, Lawrence said he is open to working with any political party providing “reasonable, common sense legislation that will help the people of Ohio.”
At debates and in his campaign, Lawrence has made clear some of his main goals as a representative. To start, he wants to see more funds routed toward public education. He would also like to push the state towards safe and legal abortion access, taking a strong liberal stance in the battle for abortion rights. By making larger corporations pay corporate income tax, he hopes to help stabilize Ohio’s economy by creating higher-paying jobs and lowering taxes for the working class. Lastly, Lawrence grounds his campaign on environmental issues, claiming that the state of our environment is one of, if not, the largest problems facing today’s economy.
Lawrence may not have won the congressional seat this semester, but his campaign was still eye-opening for many youth interested in politics, and this likely will not be the last we see of him.