A college student, Kalan Haywood, at the Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee is about to become a Wisconsin legislator. The 19-year-old has taken up the responsibility of demonstrating Black excellence to another level. Haywood is expected to be sworn in the Assembly chambers of the Wisconsin Capitol to represent Milwaukee’s 16th District before the year ends. To many this will be sufficient reason to cheer and chant more and more for Black Excellence
Haywood says that he is well aware of the fact that some people will have concerns over his age, but he also points out that it will help him reach more people and bring great results. The second-year business major said, “Being young is going to play well with some people, but there will also be people who doubt me because of my age, which is fair — it’s new. My age is my biggest asset.”
The young soon-to-be legislator is most likely to take up the position without any fight. And no lack of experience seems to be bothering him in any way. He already won a five-way primary election in August and the best part of his race is that he has no Republican challenger. At this juncture, Haywood has no obstacles in his way, unless a candidate unexpectedly pulls together a last-minute write-in campaign.
Reports by News outlets has it that, “Also, Haywood has undoubtedly proved that lawmakers don’t have to older white men. He has joined a slew of other Black men and women who have won primaries and major support to take on various offices nationwide. A primary win is already a huge victory in itself, with many social media users having celebrated candidates of color for besting opponents. What candidates do after primary victories and once they’re in office has sparked interesting online dialogues among Black Twitter.”
His age is actually what sets him apart, an advantage he is very much aware of. And according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Haywood may be the youngest state Legislature especially because there doesn’t seem to exist any legislator that is younger. John Mahoney, policy specialist at the NCSL’s Center for Legislative Strengthening, said, “I am not aware of any legislators younger than 20 at the moment, so it is likely that if a 19-year-old was just elected that he would be the youngest state legislator out there.” “Being young is going to play well with some people, but there will also be people who doubt me because of my age, which is fair — it’s new,” Haywood, a Democrat, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Haywood has wanted to join public service since his childhood. His interest grew after Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett attended a groundbreaking of a building project by Haywood’s family real estate business. “I actually knew I wanted to run for office since I was 8 years old. I thought then, ‘He has a cool job — I want to do what he’s doing’,” Haywood said.
Haywood is also taking college classes at Cardinal Stritch University.
Lawmakers are normally a lot older than Haywood. In fact, there’s no one younger on record serving in a state Legislature, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“I am not aware of any legislators younger than 20 at the moment, so it is likely that if a 19-year-old was just elected that he would be the youngest state legislator out there,” said John Mahoney, policy specialist at the NCSL’s Center for Legislative Strengthening.
Haywood won in a five-way primary election in August sans a Republican challenger.
Even though Haywood can’t gamble or even rent a car, he will soon be a decision maker voting on legislation concerning issues he can’t quite benefit from just yet.
First on his agenda, Haywood said he wants to amend a law that mandates high school students to pass a civics exam. He also wants to also propose that all 18-year-olds are required to register to vote.
“Adding the requirement of registering to vote is very important, especially in my district where we get a very low (voter) turnout compared to a total population,” Haywood said.