‘Definitely unconventional’: 17-year-old discusses Howard Co. primary campaign

One Howard County teen can’t buy cigarettes and has yet to enter college, but he’s planning his first primary election campaign in Maryland.

“Running as a 17-year-old is definitely unconventional. It’s very uncommon,” Dhruvak Mirani, 17, said of his run for a position on the Howard County Democratic Central Committee.



Democratic primary ballots in the county will show his name for the volunteer position, placing him on the ballot among gubernatorial, congressional and local legislative candidates.

“They do a lot of grassroots work to get Democrats elected to local, state (and) national office — support Democratic issues,” Mirani said. “That means volunteering for candidates, going out and canvassing for them, fundraising for candidates (and) recruiting candidates for office when that’s a need.”

The Glenelg High School graduate said that journey started when a group of graduating seniors “spray-painted racist, antisemitic, homophobic graffiti” around the school. The moment the incident became national news — his peers pleaded guilty to hate crime charges — Mirani began working to improve the school environment and increase student activism.

“As a student of color, that was a really scary experience for me,” he said, adding that he’s running because the local Democratic Party “isn’t doing enough” for the county’s younger population.

“Earlier this school year, there was a right-wing movement to ban books, for example, with LGBTQ characters in them. And that even made it to a board of education vote that only narrowly failed to investigate those books,” he said.

As a graduating senior, he said that he felt he needed to give back to the community that shaped him. While he isn’t up for a statewide office, Mirani said he thinks he’s uniquely positioned to impact young voter action in the area.

“I think this is a great way, as a young person that I can stay involved, really contribute and make sure that my effort is making a difference.”

Mirani acted as his class president, the vice president and co-founder of his high school’s Young Democrats club, and co-captain of the school’s debate team. Mirani also received a Baltimore region Princeton Prize in Race Relations Certificate of Accomplishment “for his work to advance racial equity in Howard County.”

He will attend the University of Maryland in the fall.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for WTOP.com. Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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