The non-profit an Iowa legislator co-founded to mentor Generation Z conservatives who’re entering politics is now one of Snapchat’s partners in a push to encourage young people to consider running for local office.
“You could potentially be the next governor of your state, right?” State Representative Joe Mitchell told Radio Iowa. “Or the next congressman in the next five, to 10 to 15 years, but it starts here at the local and state level.”
“Just encouraging people if they’re frustrated with what’s happening in their school board or if they’re frustrated with what’s happening in their state legislature, it’s time to stop complaining, right? It’s time to start running,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell, a Republican from Mount Pleasant, was 20 years old when he first ran for and won a seat in the Iowa House in 2018.
“What I realized was my age actually a lot of time helped me when I talked to people at the doors,” Mitchell said, “…but the other thing was, too, I had the time and the energy to be able to go out there and knock on a bunch of doors.”
Mitchell is now in his second term in the Iowa House. Run GenZ launched last year. It offers advice and support to people from his generation who are thinking about running for state and local office.
“There’s not a ton of people on either side of the aisle really, but specifically conservatives in the local and state offices that are proportionally representing our generation,” Mitchell said, “or just people under 40.”
Four other Republicans in their 20s are co-founders of Run Gen Z. Two are women serving in Florida’s legislature. One is a New Hampshire lawmaker who Mitchell said is one of only four openly gay Republicans in elected office in the U.S. and one is a black man who won a seat in West Virginia’s legislature at the age of 18.
“People of color and women and people that are gay and straight, whatever else,” Mitchell said, adding that a diverse group is important because it fits the ethos of young Americans who were born around the turn of the century.
In addition to Mitchell’s group supporting conservative candidates, Snapchat has partnered with nine other organizations across the political spectrum to encourage young adults to run for office. One is called Emerge America and its candidate recruitment is focused on Democratic women.
According to Snapchat, 90% of Americans between the ages of 13 and 24 use the social media platform. Those who express an interest in running for political office through a new tool within the app are matched up and referred to the outside groups for advice.