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Saturday, October 16, 2021

UF student running for Florida House of Representatives

<p>Amol Jethwani, a 21-year-old UF political science junior, addresses the UF Student Government Senate in the Senate Chambers inside the Reitz Union. He's now running to represent the 21st District, which includes Alachua County. </p>

Amol Jethwani, a 21-year-old UF political science junior, addresses the UF Student Government Senate in the Senate Chambers inside the Reitz Union. He's now running to represent the 21st District, which includes Alachua County. 

If elected, a UF student would become the youngest Democrat to be in the Florida House of Representatives.

Shreyas Amol Jethwani, a 21-year-old UF political science junior, filed to run for the 21st District on Jan. 19, according to the Florida Division of Elections. For the primary race in August, he is up against Democratic candidate Jason Haeseler, an associate director of utilities at UF. The winner will then run against Republican incumbent Chuck Clemons in November.

Jethwani has yet to release his platform, but it will focus on four major points: education, economy, health care and the environment, he said. The campaign’s kick-off party will be at First Magnitude Brewing Company on Feb. 15.

“We need someone who actually looks at their district and says, ‘We have these issues facing us. I don’t care if there’s a ‘D’ or ‘R’ next to your name,’” Jethwani said. “The problems are here, and we need to work to find solutions.”

District 21 consists of western Alachua, Gilchrist and Dixie counties. The district has been Republican since 2012, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

Jethwani said he originally wanted to work on or manage a 2018 political campaign. Since fifth grade, he has been marching, calling representatives and “reminding them that their constituents are human beings.”

But after President Donald Trump was elected, he said he needed to do more. He said as a Democrat, he opposes all action taken by the Trump administration. So he decided to run.

Jethwani said he serves as the deputy political director for the Florida College Democrats state board and political director for the UF chapter. He was a fellow for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, while also volunteering for a dozen other campaigns and causes.

Despite his progressive values, Jethwani said it’s important to reach across the aisle.

“It’s not about being anti-establishment,” he said. “It’s about changing the establishment. Forcing the establishment to recognize the will of the people.”

Marcie Stefan, Jethwani’s campaign manager, said Jethwani has an ability to communicate with people and reach across the aisle. She knew he would become a prominent political figure when she met him last year at a Florida Democratic Party State Convention in Orlando.

“You’re going to be seeing a lot of people running for the first time, inspired by the results of the election, especially people that are considered minorities,” the 38-year-old said.

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Jethwani said he knows his age may be an issue for many but after years of lobbying and organizing, he’s confident in his abilities.

“I’m tired of waiting for someone else to run,” he said. “I’m tired of waiting for someone else to champion the issues that I want to champion.”

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Jethwani serves as the deputy political director for the Florida College Democrats state board and political director for the UF chapter. This story has also been updated to correct that Jethwani was a fellow, an unpaid intern, for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, not an organizer. 

Amol Jethwani, a 21-year-old UF political science junior, addresses the UF Student Government Senate in the Senate Chambers inside the Reitz Union. He's now running to represent the 21st District, which includes Alachua County. 

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