California’s upcoming special election Tuesday, Sept. 14 presents voters with 46 candidates — the youngest being 20-year-old college student John Drake, who will be joining Cal Poly this fall as a transfer student.
The recall made it to the ballot after months of active petitioning to remove California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom from office. On the ballot, California registered voters may fill in ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on recalling the governor, then select which candidate they would like to see as a replacement for the duration of Newsom’s term.
Drake was first motivated to run due to what he deemed a “lack of progressive candidates” on the ballot.
With polls closing today, Drake reminds constituents that he didn’t run to win.
“Obviously I have no shot at winning – I’m still proud of it,” Drake said. “There’s so many young people who have gotten behind me because they felt that their voices haven’t been heard by the general mainstream politicians.”
Born in Riga, Latvia, Drake has lived in California as a Ventura local since the age of four. Though enjoying a slew of extracurriculars as a child — baseball, soccer, dance, figure skating — Drake often found himself being drawn toward his mom’s political involvement.
“Growing up, politics was pretty big in my family,” Drake said. “My mother was a lobbyist in Sacramento and D.C. for her specific cable company — a local cable company in Ventura, CA called Avenue Cable.”
At 11 years old, Drake began to listen in to news playing on television while his parents watched, which peaked his interest in global events.
“While most kids were playing Pokémon or basketball during recess and lunch, I’d be studying up on world affairs,” Drake said. “I’d literally take one of my teacher’s encyclopedias from the classroom and just read it.”
Despite his longshot campaign this past summer, Drake intends on running in the California Democratic primaries in 2022. As an immigrant, Drake aims to one day become Speaker of the House — the closest position possible to President of the United States. The feedback on his current campaign has kept his spirits high for the future.
“It’s weird — there were people that hated me in high school who have decided to actually start following me and giving me encouragement,” Drake said.
Liberal studies sophomore Oren Abed said she was excited to see a young representative on the ballot.
“Though I haven’t been a registered voter for long, I’ve been able to recognize the hypocrisy among career politicians,” Abed said. “It made me happy to know that our generation cares enough to run, despite it sometimes seeming like we don’t have a lot of say.”
Though joining in-person school in the fall, Drake intends on continuing his coaching group lessons at Iceoplex Simi Valley on the weekends. He looks forward to joining his mom’s alma mater while pursuing a political science degree at Cal Poly.
The voting polls will be open today until 8 p.m. for people voting in-person. Find your nearest polling place here.