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4th District Democrats elect 17-year-old vice chair

Emily Provencio is 17 and the newly elected vice-chair of the Democrats in the Fourth District. She's getting politically involved before she can vote and says it's essential that the parties reach out to young people and welcome them. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Emily Provencio is 17 and the newly elected vice-chair of the Democrats in the Fourth District. She's getting politically involved before she can vote and says it's essential that the parties reach out to young people and welcome them. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Emily Provencio is the newly elected vice chairwoman of the 4th Legislative District Democratic Party, and she spent Presidents Day lobbying in Olympia with other members of the Young Democrats of Eastern Washington.

“We had a meeting with Sen. (Mike) Padden, and we stopped by Matt Shea’s office. It was a great trip,” said Provencio, who is a student at Eastern Washington University, where she also works as a tutor.

And she’s 17.

That’s right. She can’t vote and she’s already a party official.

Provencio laughs.

“I sort of got it backwards: I joined the party and began volunteering and then I joined the Young Democrats,” Provencio said.

Actually, she ran for chair of the 4th District Democrats, but some were concerned she was too young or had too little organizational experience.

“They were nervous about my age,” Provencio said. “Now I’m working on showing them what I can do.”

She worked on the Bernie Sanders campaign last year, and that’s how she got really interested in politics.

“Bernie had an emphasis on local politics, so I decided to get involved,” Provencio said.

Party officials tell her she may be the youngest person ever elected as vice chairwoman in Washington state.

Provencio said the parties are missing out if they don’t reach out to younger people and try to engage them in politics.

She has felt some “stigma” because of her age, but said younger people bring new ideas and new perspectives that may help the parties stay relevant.

Provencio went to East Valley High School and is in Running Start at EWU. She’s planning to major in political science.

She said the presidential election has motivated some of her friends to join political groups, and others to stay even farther away from politics.

“It’s definitely a mixed reaction,” she said.

Does she have any advice for younger people who are contemplating getting involved in politics?

“I’d say show up for the meetings and volunteer for something you’d like to do,” Provencio said.

She’s running for national committeewoman at the Young Democrats of Washington Convention in April – will she run for elected office?

“Maybe? I’m thinking about it,” Provencio said. “I am trying to figure out where I have the best chance.”

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