Arizona high school senior projected to win race for school board
PHOENIX — He’s a high schooler in Avondale and still too young to do a lot of things. But he is old enough to run for office, which he did and is leading his race.
At 18 years old, Markus Ceniceros ran for a seat on the Littleton Elementary School District’s governing board in the West Valley. He’s leading an incumbent to serve a four-year term.
“I’m feeling very optimistic,” the teen told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “I’m super, super hopeful that this will be a victory.”
Ceniceros is a senior at West Point High School where he’s involved with student government and the National Honor Society. He also cofounded a political organization that focuses on encouraging young people to register and vote.
On Monday night, he was one of two candidates leading the ballot count. He had 36% of the votes, ahead of Curtis Nielson’s 27%, according to the Maricopa County Elections Department. Amy Soucinek had 37%.
If elected, Ceniceros has big plans for the district. He wants to focus on the mental well-being of students, teachers and staff.
“I personally struggled a lot during the pandemic with my mental health, and I can only imagine what our educators and other students have gone through,” Ceniceros said.
He also wants to find new ways to bring clean energy to the district by getting more electric buses and solar panels. In addition, he wants to make teacher retention a priority.
Ceniceros attended two of the schools in the district as a young child. He was a student at Fine Arts Academy and Tres Rios Service Academy from second grade to eighth grade.
The connection he has to the district isn’t the only reason why he ran for school board.
“Looking around in my community, I didn’t see any young representation,” he explained. “And I thought that my generation should have a seat in public office in my community.”
Ceniceros said the feedback he got on the campaign trail was mostly positive. He said voters were “very surprised” to see a school board candidate knocking on their doors, asking for their support.
He also admitted they were surprised by his age, which he said he worked to overcome.
“Obviously I knew running at a young age, I would have to prove myself,” he said.
When asked what his message is to those who still question if he’s too young to serve on the school board, Ceniceros said he encourages them to not count him out.
“I may be young, but I represent a generation that wants to see change,” he said. “I’m going to stand up and keep working every day to ensure that we can move the district forward.”