University of Minnesota junior Austin Berger launched his election campaign Tuesday for a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Currently studying economics and political science, Berger is running as part of the Democratic Farmer Labor Party for the House District 45A seat, which represents Minneapolis suburbs New Hope and Crystal. He said he is running in the 2020 election to give back to the community that raised him.
At 20 years old, he will be one of the younger candidates running for state office, but he said that seeing U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., win her seat makes him optimistic.
“I figured that if a bartender from the Bronx can become a United States congresswoman, why can’t a kid that works a part-time job at Starbucks from the northside of New Hope become a State House representative?”
District incumbent Rep. Lyndon Carlson Sr., DFL-Crystal, will not run for his seat in 2020. He was first elected in 1972.
Issues that Berger hopes to address should he win the election are gun reform, climate change in Minnesota and access to quality education, among others.
Berger was a member of the University’s Minnesota Student Association until he resigned in late October amid concerns with MSA climate.
He said he has “never envisioned himself as a politician” but has been involved in activism since his teenage years.
When asked how he plans to balance his school and his campaign, Berger stated he will likely take the spring semester off to focus on his political aspirations.
“My community deserves nothing less than my full engagement during this campaign.”