Young candidates join the race to prove themselves

Katarina Zoricic believes that being a good political candidate has nothing to do with age.

“I think that they automatically write me off because they just see with age is more wisdom,” she said. “That doesn’t have to be true.”

Zoricic is a candidate for the Green Party in the federal Toronto riding of Etobicoke Centre. She’s 24 and joined the Green Party when she felt youth weren’t being taken seriously enough.

Barry Peters is the Wellington-Halton Hills Liberal candidate and began in politics while still in high school. At the age of 30, he said it was difficult being a young candidate, but worth it.

“It’s definitely difficult. You have to understand that there are sacrifices like your personal life,” he said.

Peters said he had to give up his social life so he didn’t have to give up his work or school.

“You have to make sure you work in those social breaks because you don’t want to go crazy,” Peters said. “I knew the school would finish eventually and I didn’t want to give up both things knowing that there was an end date in sight.”

Peters worked full-time with the City of Toronto as an executive assistant while studying political science at the University of Guelph. He said that while it may have been hard juggling school, work and politics, it all came down to time management.

“It was just a balance of getting it to work, doing your job, coming home and studying or going to class,” Peters said.

Peters explained that the biggest challenge as a young candidate is have sufficient experience.

“I think that in this election, people are so tired of what they’re seeing in Ottawa … They’re almost looking for a new perspective on things,” he said. “You have to prove to them that … that you understand what they need … by talking about the policies, by standing firm in your convictions and by relating to them.”

Zoricic had a similar view.

“One of the biggest things in my riding is we have a large portion of elderly people,” She said. “They sort of look at me as being very inexperienced.”

University of Toronto Professor James Robert Brown explained that it doesn’t really matter what the age, gender or race of a candidate is, as long as they know the party policies.

“The ignorance of the youth today is that they don’t care,” he said. “As for not winning, I think it would be a good thing if they (young candidates) got burned at least once.” Brown said.

Zoricic agreed.

“You learn so much even if you don’t get nominated or you don’t get elected for MP,” she said.