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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Eighteen-year-old enters governor’s race

CarouselGovernorChristiansenMugOn the surface, Jared Christiansen is just another 18-year-old kid from northwestern Wisconsin. He lives with his parents in Ellsworth, a town of 3,000 just an hour’s drive from Minnesota’s Twin Cities. He keeps up with his studies and holds down a job at McDonald’s.

Still, Christiansen is different from his peers. He took flying lessons as a 12-year-old aspiring pilot. He lives alone for two weeks at a time while his parents, who work as truck drivers, are on the road. His job at McDonald’s is full time. And he wants to be Wisconsin’s next governor.

His inspiration to run for public office came from living in a small town and hearing from peers about their parents’ struggles, he said. Christiansen’s family has also battled bankruptcy, unemployment and foreclosure, which allows him to connect with people and understand their problems, he said.

“To know that so many people are out of work is heartbreaking,” he said.

Christiansen said President Obama’s call to young people to become involved in community service also influenced his decision to run for office. Originally, he wanted to run for a state Assembly seat, but decided to run for governor because it offered the chance to affect more direct change, he said.

It may seem bizarre for an 18-year-old to pursue such responsibilities, but in Wisconsin, it’s legal. In Illinois and Minnesota, citizens must be at least 25 to run for governor. In Iowa, Michigan and Missouri, the limit is 30. But according to the state constitution of Wisconsin, anyone who is a U.S. citizen and “a qualified elector of the state” is eligible to run for governor.

Christiansen said he’s ready for the responsibilities.

Going through school, he helped his teachers grade papers and mentored classmates. He was also a member of the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary branch of the Air Force, where he learned discipline and communication skills and how to teach those skills to new cadets. His job at McDonald’s has also given him valuable leadership and organizational skills, he said.

Major Bryce Duncan, the commander of the Red Wing Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, said Christiansen did his job as deputy commander well.

“Jared was always ready and willing to help, and the younger cadets looked up to him as a role model,” Duncan said.

Christiansen entered the race last spring as a Democrat. The three most important issues to his campaign are jobs, health care and education, he said.

Christiansen said he would focus on developing renewable energy sources, such as off-shore wind turbines and hydroelectric power stations, and lowering corporate income taxes to create jobs. Christiansen wants to reward companies for staying in the state. He also wants to lower hospital administration and prescription drug costs and allocate more money to state school districts and the University of Wisconsin System, he said.

Christiansen acknowledged his age and inexperience would be a factor in the race and that a lot of people won’t vote for an 18-year-old, but he insisted it could also give him an edge over other candidates because he would bring new ideas to government and would not be tied to special interest groups.

“Age is really only a state of mind,” Christiansen said.

Even if he doesn’t win, Christiansen hopes to influence more young people to run for public office at the city and state levels.

“I want them to see that if they have the determination to lead, then they can do it,” he said.

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  • K

    Ken Van DorenDec 16, 2009 at 9:45 am

    While I do not question Mr. Christianson’s dedication, intelligence or sincerity, I just wonder if he has the life’s experience to know that the policies he wants to implement would accomplish the good that he perceives they will. I look back at my life, and see that it was a combination of experience working for state and federal government, living in Madison and getting to know quite a number of bureaucrats who did not impress me as either angels or geniuses, and running my own business that got me to realize that my teachers were wrong on many accounts with regard to the proper role of government. At his stage in life, it is not likely that he “knows” much more than the indoctrination he has received up to this point, and probably has little reason to question or oppose it.

    Sorry Jared, but government us FAR more likely to be the problem than the answer, based on my 60+ years of experience and research. Live a little, work in the PRIVATE sector, run your own business, and then tell us what you think, what you have learned.

    “Government IS the disease that pretends to be its own cure.” Tom Mullen quote.