Simon Rosenbaum, 15, of Stowe is running a write-in campaign to become high bailiff of Lamoille County.
The obscure elected position is unique to Vermont. The county official has one job: Arrest the sheriff if need be and fill his position until a new one is found. It hasn’t been needed in modern times.
Rosenbaum isn’t running because he thinks Lamoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux needs arresting — he has only good things to say about the sheriff.
He’s running because “it’s a civic responsibility to ensure a seat is contested so the voters have a choice,” he said.
While campaigning for Michelle Bos-Lun, a candidate for the Vermont House in the Putney-Dummerston-Westminster district, he learned no one was running for high bailiff.
“I was pretty horrified because it’s a civilian oversight position,” he said. So, when he saw there was only one person on the ballot for high bailiff in Lamoille County, this year, incumbent Republican Claude Ammons Jr., he started a write-in campaign for the Democratic nomination.
Rosenbaum also wants to encourage other people his age to get involved in their governments.
“This is a protest campaign. I believe that too often, the voices of young people are shut out of politics,” he said.
An activist from youth
Rosenbaum isn’t interested only in politics. He’s on the varsity basketball team at Vermont Commons, a college prep school in South Burlington, and runs cross country and plays Ultimate Frisbee. He’s also part of the Model U.N. and competes in Academic WorldQuest, a trivia contest about international affairs.
These interests in politics began when his family lived in California. His parents brought him to a rally protesting Proposition 8, an anti-gay-marriage amendment to the state constitution. He was 5 at the time.
When he was 8, he remembers his grandfather taking him to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. “That really stood out because they have all the documents that shaped America there. They have what we live by and what governs our lives and our freedoms,” he said.
Since then, he has worked as a legislative page, campaigned for state representatives, and is now interning with Rebecca Holcombe’s campaign for governor. He made clear that his internship is not an endorsement.
“I grew up in one of the worst financial disasters in the country, and I’m living through a second one,” he said. “It’s the responsibility of me as a young person to look out for my future. Any little thing I can do, that is an important step in the right direction.”
That extends to everyone, he said.
“I think it’s important that we understand that it's up to us to shape the sort of world that we want to live in. And that’s really what I came from.”
So, what happens if Rosenbaum, who will be 16 by Election Day, has to arrest the sheriff?
“I want to be very, very clear here, I do not think this would happen in any universe,” he said.