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He's 17, but he plans on being the youngest person to run for city council

Posted at 7:02 AM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-11 17:16:34-05

CINCINNATI — You have to be 18 years old to run for election on Cincinnati's city council, but this teen plans on filing the paperwork to run once he reaches that milestone next year.

"People, they were like, 'You're running? Is that even legal?'" Jalen Alford said.

Alford is 17 years old, but he says don't let his age fool you.

"I've been [politically] active since I was 11 years old," Alford said. "I've worked on President Obama's campaign. Most recently, my uncle Robert Richardson, I worked on his campaign for mayor."

And working on political campaigns is just the start. Alford is also an NAACP youth council president, and as the youth council president, he spends a lot of time confronting the issue of teen gun violence.

He also has a plan to lower the voting age to 16 years old.

"We just actually won a regional grant from the NAACP for our voter registration plan," he said.

However, some current city council members are not so sure about this plan.

"I'm not sure if 16 is an age that I feel comfortable enough, that someone has enough real world experience," councilmember David Mann said. Councilmember Jeff Pastor said, "Because the age of an adult is designated at 18, I think everything should be at 18."

Even though they don't think the voting age should be lowered, both councilmembers said it was great to see a young person getting involved in politics.

While being the youngest city council member would be a great achievement, Alford said that's not the end goal.

"The dream would be the White House," Alford said. "After seeing Obama, I'm inspired to do anything, and that's going to be my end goal."