Kansas teenager announces candidacy to represent 42nd District

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TONGANOXIE, Kan. -- He graduated from Tonganoxie High School in May and now a Kansas teenager is ready for his first run at public office.

An American flag waves outside the temporary office of a Kansas state representative hopeful. Inside, 18-year-old Austin Harris is hard at work, preparing for his first shot at public office.

“I'm very excited about the campaign. I'm very excited about the election," Harris said.

He was an honor student, debate team member and class speaker who just got his high school diploma.

“I like to learn. I like to have new experiences and I like to be challenged," Harris said.

Now he says he's ready for perhaps his biggest challenge yet: A run for the Kansas State Capitol.

"I think there's enough unhappiness about what's happening in the Capitol right now, that we have a shot at it," he explained.

On Thursday the self-described "learner", who's had a passion for politics shortly after he was out of Pampers, officially announced his Democratic candidacy for the Kansas State House of Representatives.

Harris wants to represent District 42 and his primary campaign issue will be education.

"It really prepares you for the future, helps you decide who you're gonna be," Harris explained. "And I want to make sure those are there for the next generation of Kansas students."

If elected, Harris would become the youngest Kansas State Representative to hold office in recent years. But first, the aspiring politician, whose campaign motto is "A New Way of Thinking", must defeat Harold Fevurly Jr., a seasoned, Democratic opponent in the primary.

And the young hopeful faces an even tougher uphill battle in November where he'd square off with incumbent Republican Connie O'Brien who's seeking her fourth term.

Despite the odds, the energized Washburn University history major is off and running, hoping to make history.

"I keep hearing if there was ever a year for me to win, it would be this year," Harris said.

For now Harris says he and his six member team will keep campaigning, keep pulling on the Democratic Party for support and keep strategizing his big, possible win. Voters will have their say when they head to the polls for the primary August 5.

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