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Central Standard

Young Voters In Kansas And Missouri Are Disappointed In Their Choices For President

Justice Horn
Justice Horn says his first choice in the Democratic presidential race had been Elizabeth Warren. Still, he plans to vote in Missouri's primary Tuesday.

Turnout among younger voters so far in the Democratic presidential primary contest has been lower than expected. Still, many college students in the Kansas City area are gearing up for their chance to cast ballots not only on Tuesday, in Missouri’s primary, but beyond into November.

Here is what some young voters are thinking about the state of the 2020 presidential contest and what the results could mean for their future.

Their comments have been edited for clarity and length:

Justice Horn, 21

Credit Jodi Fortino / KCUR

UMKC’s student body president, Horn says his political beliefs are inspired by his great-grandfather’s work as a union representative for General Motors in Kansas City. Horn identifies as mixed race and LGBTQ.

“I think when you look at kind of the policies and the systemic things facing a lot of the communities I represent, you have to look at the political side of things, and a lot of the policies that are in place. I think a lot of people aren't aware that you could get married Saturday and be fired from your job Monday [for being gay] in the state of Missouri.

“The whole mentality of 'wait your turn' or 'you're too young', I think we're not listening to that. This is going to be our country in a couple of years, so we're not waiting to inherit these problems. We're taking this up on our own.”

Sam Bellefy, 20

Credit Jodi Fortino / KCUR

Sam Bellefy is a sophomore at UMKC. He grew up in Belton, Missouri, and considers himself politically unaffiliated.

“Over time I've just found myself more and more dissatisfied in the directions that both parties have gone and really can't see myself supporting either one of them authentically. Politically, it seems like everything is centered around short-term gains. The earlier we were in the primary process, the more hopeful I was for the Democratic candidates. But as more and more of them have been dropping off, I've become a lot more pessimistic about it. I feel like now we're kind of back of the status quo: 70-year-old white men.”

Arielle Von der Hyde, 19

Credit Jodi Fortino / KCUR

Arielle Von der Hyde considers herself a nontraditional student at Johnson County Community College. Hyde is the daughter of a German immigrant and is a Democrat.

“I don't think there is a perfect candidate because the candidates right now are the status quo. They are all very old white men in their seventies and I would like to see a candidate who is younger and has a more diverse background and also does care about things like the environment. So far, I have not made up my mind on a candidate. Morally, I align more with Bernie Sanders, but I'm also worried about electability, which would be Joe Biden.”

Suan Sonna, 20

Credit Suan Sonna

Suan Sonna is a sophomore philosophy major at Kansas State Univesity. While politically unaffiliated, he says he identifies as a conservative. He says he used to identify as a Democratic Socialist but became disillusioned with Bernie Sanders and the Democratic party over time.

“Sometimes people think if you're liberal, you're going to be a Democrat. If you're conservative, you're going to be Republican. The fact is, I identify as a conservative, but I don't align with either party. I know that there are pragmatic or practical issues I should worry about, for instance, like college tuition and so forth. But right now, I'm concerned about healthcare, social justice issues and abortion. I think for a lot of the older generation might be more focused on more pragmatic issues while we're trying to focus on how are we going to get through college? How are we going to deal with all this division in our country?”

Mollie Swift, 22

Credit Mollie Swfit / Facebook

Mollie Swift is a senior at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri. She is a Republican who got an elephant tattoo after the 2016 election. She says her political views did not come so much from her parents but from her own set of morals and values.

“The issue that I care most about would be first and foremost individual freedom. I think, government, especially the federal government, shouldn't necessarily have to be involved in the everyday lives of Americans. More specifically, I think the decriminalization of marijuana is a big issue to me. I think marijuana should be decriminalized and I would like to see marijuana legalized. I will be voting for Trump in this next election as well. Business-wise I'm very Republican but on social issues I tend to be more independent. I tend to just be more understanding when it comes to social issues, which I definitely wasn't in high school.”

Justice Horn, Sam Bellefy, Arielle Von der Hyde, Suan Sonna and Mollie Swift spoke with KCUR on a recent episode of Central Standard. You can listen to their entire conversation here.

Jodi Fortino is a news intern at KCUR.