WESTFIELD, NJ — Though they’re too young to serve, three Westfield High School students are now running for US President thanks to a loophole in the law: While a person must be at least 35 years old to serve as President of the United States of America, there are no age restrictions for running.
Two WHS students — Anthony Pericolo and Will Harmer — officially began running in the fall, even holding a debate with each other. When Westfield High School senior Aarie Vann heard what they were doing, he decided to declare his candidacy, too. The three candidates held another debate this spring.
According to Vann, his democratic and progressive views add a fresh, non-extreme and realistic perspective to the race.
“Since Will is running as a socialist and Anthony as a Republican, there was no Democratic candidate,” Vann said. “Both of my fellow candidates are also to the extremes of their sides of the political spectrum, so I thought it would add change in the debates to have someone who was more moderate.”
On Vann’s entry into the race, Harmer said, “I'm friends with Aarie, he's a good guy, and it's always good to have more voices on that stage.”
According to Pericolo, Vann prepared diligently for their debate.
“My opponent, Aarie Vann, was an extremely formidable opponent at the second debate,” Pericolo said. “He went through rigorous debate prep, and his performance at the last debate showed.”
Pericolo added that Vann’s tendency to take a neutral stance made Pericolo’s job harder.
“He is taking away some of my support because he is moderate on most issues, and to the voters, he seems like a compromise between the socialist politics of candidate Harmer and my staunchly conservative policies,” Pericolo said.
Harmer also noted Vann’s neutrality.
“He's very satisfied with moderation,” Harmer said. “At the debate, he liked to position himself as the calm, cool centrist. The issue with that is the few reforms he proposes solve barely any issues. He's too satisfied with piecemeal change when real change is easily achievable.”
Following the debate, the candidates held a vote for the audience, according to Vann. Vann’s idea (and his opponents’ fear) that his moderate views would be attractive to voters proved true when Vann emerged victorious.
“I thought I did pretty well," Vann said.
Though Vann does enjoy politics and may include it in his college education, he is not sure if he wants to pursue it as a career.
“My involvement in politics is more of a hobby at the moment, though I might do a political science minor in college,” Vann said. “Maybe down the line I'll run for public office if I see the opportunity.”