PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - You can run for city council or school board in Arizona when you turn 18. But to run for the House of Representatives or Senate, you have to be 25. Now, some lawmakers are pushing to lower that age to 18. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Representative Matt Gress (R-LD4) said.
For Gress (an Oklahoma native), lowering the age limit to run for the Senate or House from 25 to 18 is personal. “When I ran for office when I was 18, and I’m now 34, one constant has remained,” he said. “Someone’s heart for their community and using their ears to listen are the qualities that I think make the best representative.” Through his proposed Arizona Civic Participation Act, Gress is pushing to allow Arizona’s Generation Z the same opportunity he had decades ago. And he’s received support from both Republicans and Democrats.
“College students today, they’re doing way more than adults are doing these days,” Representative Cesar Aguilar (D-LD26) said. “And they definitely have the energy to do it. That’s what they end up bringing.” At 27, Aguilar is one of the youngest state lawmakers. He says for his district and several others, most residents are in that same age range. “If that’s the makeup of your district, you should be able to represent it,” he said.
Currently, Arizona joins Utah and Colorado as the only states where residents must be at least 25 to run for the Senate or House. On the other hand, the age to run for both state offices is already 18 in 12 states.
Eighteen-year-old Tolleson native Markus Ceniceros, elected to the Littleton Elementary School Board last year, says it’s time for Arizona to look forward to a younger state legislature. “A sense of hope for the future, because there is a lack of young people in office,” Ceniceros said. “Voting rights, LGBTQ+ rights, there are so many things that we can bring to the legislature at such a young age.”
This act was just referred to the House Government Committee today. The chairman has yet to decide to hear it.