An 18-year-old is throwing his name into the mix in the school-board election in Transcona, but he doesn't want to be labelled as a youth candidate.
"Age really isn't an issue here, I believe that I'm mature enough to do this position," said Dakota Kochie, who graduated as valedictorian from Murdoch MacKay Collegiate in 2014.
"I have lots of experience doing policy planning, dealing with government at provincial and federal levels and just connecting with people on a face-to-face basis."
Kochie is seeking a school trustee spot in the River East Transcona School Division in Ward One while starting his first year at the University of Winnipeg in September, studying criminology and political science.
He is a key member of the Young Liberals of Canada's Manitoba chapter, said Manitoba Liberal Party leader, Rana Bokhari, who was surprised to hear Kochie was only 18 when reached by phone on Saturday -- she assumed he was 25 or 26.
"His level of maturity is way beyond 18," said Bokhari.
"He's pretty impressive. The guy's a leader, he's a go-getter and he's taking control."
Kochie said he will be the co-president of the Young Liberals group at the U of W come fall and will play football for the East Side Eagles of the Manitoba Major Football League this season. He attended a spring training camp with the University of Manitoba Bisons but suffered a concussion on the second day, cutting his season short. He hopes to make it back to play for the Bisons one day, but for now has shifted his focus to politics.
"I went for a school trustee spot because not only am I a pretty big person in my community, I just feel like it's a bridge into bigger and better things. I want to make a difference in the school system in River East and Transcona," Kochie said.
Kochie said he has spoken with many teachers at Murdoch MacKay about their thoughts on the division's needs; he's often at the school helping coach the football team. He would like to increase funding for developing student initiatives such as SCAAT (Students Creating Autism Awareness Together), a club he co-founded at Murdoch MacKay. SCAAT won a Yes I Can Award! from the Manitoba Council for Exceptional Children in 2014.
"Student programs like that might need a little bit more funding, even if it's just 50 bucks, that can help them to buy posters or supplies," Kochie said.
Kochie is the third youth candidate to declare his intentions to run for a school board position in the October 22 election. Tanjit Nagra, 18, and Candace Maxymovich, 20, are running for trustee positions in the Louis Riel School Division in Wards One and Four, respectively.
Having seen Maxymovich being attacked on Twitter because of her support for abstinence-only sex education, Kochie admitted he hesitated to use the social media site for campaigning. He recently deleted his personal Twitter page.
"Honestly, I commend her on what she did (speaking out), but my views obviously differ. My political relations are very liberal," Kochie said. "We should come to the realization that teens do have sex and we should be preparing them for those situations instead of backing away from them, which could lead to potentially unwelcome situations... I want to have a more modern approach to things."