Do you think a 25-year-old should be eligible to run for Governor or Lt. Governor? Think about it because that question will be posed to you on the November ballot as a constitutional amendment. The constitutional amendment notice has been posted on the capitol website in four languages - English, Japanese, Ilocano and Chinese. The specific wording will be:
"Shall the age qualification for the office of governor and office of lieutenant governor be reduced from thirty years of age to twenty-five years of age?"
SB966 was introduced by Sen. David Ige in 2007 and proposed the constitutional amendment to lower the eligibility age requirement. It was carried over to the 2008 session, passed the legislature, and enacted into law this year. The majority of the testimony in 2008 came from a group of young adults from Youth Outreach! Hawaii. Here are some of the reasons (excerpts from testimony) why they believe the age limit should be lowered:
I am unreservedly in favor of bill SB966 which would lower the age a person can run for Governor from 30 to 25. I personally think it should be 18 like California, but 25 will be a great start.
I think people need to get involved in a democratic process as early as possible. Youth is attracted to, inspired by, lead by other youth. Young people are interested in - young athletes, young actors, young musicians etc. They care much more about what their peers think then anyone else.
To get the youth excited we need a young leader, and to get a young leader we need to give them the opportunity to run for Governor. We need to send a message to the youth that politics isn't something just for their parents, I think that's what we're telling the young adults right now with our age limitation 30 to run for Governor.
When I as younger, my view on golf was that it was one the most boring sports and that it was for old retired people, certainly not something that my friends and I would be interested in doing or watching. Yet, when Tiger Woods came on the scene, I found myself watching and even thinking about playing golf!
Similarly, young people these days seem to have the view that polities is something that only their parents would be interested in. We want to get them interested.
Ever since I got involved with YO! Hawaii (Youth Outreach Hawaii) and we decided to try and get this bill passed, I have had the opportunity to go out and talk to youth groups and the general public, finding a great response and support from people who would also like to see this bill passed, from all ages and groups.
Candidates should be elected for their character, their values, and the issues they support, not just because of the age they are. Look at the many different candidates for Governor who have questionable backgrounds/experience/agenda, who may get a hundred or so odd votes. Why are they qualified to be on the ballot?
I have many friends who are under the age of 30 and are able to go to war, fight for our country and die. And yet just because of their age, they're not eligible to lead as Governor or Lt. Governor. I know that they, myself and others my age are discouraged by this, feeling that our voice doesn't count.
Changing the age will have a positive psychological effect on young people. People in their 20s will feel inspired that the opportunity is there, they will feel included, that they are a part of something big and have a voice in making a difference in our state. The goal is to get the young adults in our state more involved in their communities and our democratic process, and this bill will help do that.
I feel that this bill will initiate young people to get involved in politics. If this constitutional amendment gets on the ballot, it will make people publicly aware of the option, and may inspire and encourage the younger age groups to vote and actually get involved in politics.
I work in the business world and I know people under the age of 30 that own corporations and are making millions of dollars and are changing the way we do business. The same applies to people in the military or people that are elected officials in other states. They are under the age of 30, but they are making a difference. They have the support and people are voting for them and electing them. So why can't we open the possibilities and make it so that people with great managerial and entrepreneurial skills bring that energy into politics in Hawaii? So unless you don't want to bring in new ideas, new energy and new skills into politics in Hawaii, you will not vote for this bill. If you do, than you will favor it.
I have some friends that are very passionate about politics and want to make a difference, but they are intimidated because they feel that they need to be older to get involved. They feel that people won't take them seriously if they are of a certain age group. This constitutional amendment will remove any of those intimidations and will encourage them to get involved and make a difference.