Tyler Ruzich will turn 17 years old next week. He’s hoping that when he’s 18, he’ll be sworn in as the 47th governor of the state of Kansas.
The Shawnee Mission North junior became the second teenager to enter the gubernatorial race this week when he filed paperwork with the secretary of state’s office. Jack Bergeson, a 16-year-old from Wichita, drew national attention when he and a classmate entered the race for the Democratic nomination as candidates for governor and lieutenant governor last month.
“I had met Jack online a couple of years ago and I thought it was really cool that someone my age was throwing their hat in the race,” he said. “He actually kind of encouraged me to enter the race as well. All the credit going to him for drawing attention to the young people getting involved, I thought it was a unique opportunity.”
Ruzich isn’t a complete stranger to the workings of government. For the past year, he’s served on the Prairie Village Teen Council, shadowing the city’s elected officials at meetings and learning about how a city works. He’s also been on the SM North debate team since his freshman year. He’s talking with his debate partner, Calvin Tran, about joining the ticket as a lieutenant governor candidate.
Ruzich calls himself a moderate Republican, and said his campaign will stress the importance of the state’s public education system.
“I have seen the effects first hand as a student,” he said. “When I was at Hocker Grove, we had overcrowding, too many students and not enough teachers. I think education should be the most important issue and topic in this campaign. With Gov. Brownback in charge, that hasn’t been the case. It’s all been cut taxes, cut taxes, cut taxes at the expense of the amount we can spend on public education going down.”
He knows his chances of winning are quite slim — but he says he’s serious about the process, wants to learn about running for office, and thinks he has the opportunity to get a lot of first time voters to the polls.
“I think that with my age, many people won’t take it as a legitimate campaign,” he said. “But I’m in it to win it. There’s no reason to do it if it’s just a joke. I know the chances are pretty small, but I am serious.”