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17-year-old student runs for House seat in Warren County

Sam Cao, a Mason High School junior, says he is running in the upcoming primary election in Ohio.
17-year-old student runs for House seat in Warren County
Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 12:56 PM EDT
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WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - Most high school juniors are getting ready for exams while preparing for a big senior year.

But one 11th grader is instead lobbying for votes in the upcoming primary election for an Ohio House seat.

Sam Cao is a junior at Mason High School, and he is running in the Democratic primary for a House seat in Warren County.

Cao is facing off against fellow candidate Joy Bennett in the upcoming election.

The two candidates are not quite rivals, and are rather supportive of one another.

“We’re seeing this as a chance to flip the seat to one of love, compassion and unity,” Cao says, “because that’s what our district our so desperately needs right now.”

Cao and Bennett both say that running is not about flipping their district blue but instead cycling in new people with fresh ideas who also care about communities.

Bennett says, “Having someone who’s active and involved, who shows up who’s visible and accessible, would be huge.”

The two candidates knew one another before Cao launched his campaign. The ambitious 17-year-old attends Mason High School along with Bennett’s daughter, so she said he told her he was running around February.

“We’ve seen so many problems happen out of this pandemic - the government’s response and just the chaos that came with it - and I want to run someday. Little did I know that ‘someday’ would be, like, two months later,” said Cao.

But Bennett knew that having a platform is just one component, so she decided to help him out.

Cao says that Bennett connected him with the National Democratic Training Committee, which offers zooms and training sessions, as well as the Butler County Democrats. She also helped him file candidate paperwork.

“There’s an extensive amount of just financial reporting required,” says Bennett. “File disclosures, you have to file reports for how much money’s come in and where you spent it. I wanted to encourage Sam and his team and give them the tools that they need.”

Cao admits that some have called him “inexperienced,” but says he is still aspiring to serve while offering the wisdom he has learned in his 17 years.

“Whether you’re voting for me or for someone else, you need to vote in local elections, because I know that local elections, unfortunately, do not get as much as much attention,” says Cao.

If Cao wins, Mason High School has approved remote learning for his senior year.

Early voting is currently underway in Ohio. Find local candidates, precincts, and the early voting schedules on the Ohio Secretary of State website.

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