Rachel Gonzalez is a 17-year-old high school student from Independence, MO, the home of Harry Truman. Rachel is an elected delegate for Hillary Clinton. She lives with her parents and two dogs. She has older siblings who live with their spouses and children.
DocJess: I was told that you are the youngest delegate attending the convention.
Rachel Gonzalez: I know that I’m Hillary Clinton’s youngest delegate, but I don’t know if there are any younger delegates. You need to turn 18 by Election Day to be a delegate, and my birthday is in October, so I don’t know that there will be anyone younger.
DJ: I’m guessing you’re still in high school?
RG: Yes, I’ll be starting senior year in August. I plan to attend Truman State majoring in political science and criminal justice. After that, I’d like to go to law school, although I don’t know where yet.
DJ: When did you decide you wanted to be a delegate?
RG: I didn’t decide until last minute because I didn’t think it was possible to be elected, although I’ve been working on her campaign for over a year. Other Hillary supporters convinced me to run, In Missouri, we have a caucus system, so people have to show up and vote for you. Ahead of the caucus, I called everyone I thought might come to ask for their support. I made flyers. There were a few hundred people at the caucus. I was one of more than 20 women running for two spots. We all had the chance to give a speech, and I focused mine on all the work I’ve done for Hillary Clinton in Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri.
DJ: What first got you interested in Hillary Clinton?
RG: I went to a rally for her back in 2008. I was 9 years old. She wasn’t there, but Bill Clinton was. Then and there I became interested in the process. As I said, I’ve been working for her for more than a year. I knew I couldn’t vote for her in the primary, but I wanted her to get the nomination so I could use my very first vote for her in November.
DJ: Have you met Hillary Clinton?
RG: Yes, I’ve met her multiple times, and I’m going to be seeing her later this week.
DJ: Why is Hillary Clinton your candidate?
RG: I like her positions on the issues, but what is most important to me is that she is the most qualified person to run the country. She has so much experience. She’s been first lady, and secretary of state, and a senator. Those are many perspectives she will bring to the job. Plus, the next president will be appointing Supreme Court judges, and I don’t want Donald Trump making those decisions. I want Hillary to pick the justices.
DJ: Are you active in politics right now, or are you getting ready for the convention?
RG: I stay active. I’m involved now with a number of things. First, phone calls on Hillary’s behalf to multiple states to gauge interest. Then, there are the voter booths which we held at KC Pride and Fiesta Hispana. Also, I go with other supporters to the Kansas City River Market, which is an open mall with shops and restaurants. We go around with clipboards asking people who they’re supporting. If they are Hillary supporters, we take their information and reach out to them about getting involved with the campaign.
DJ: When I was trying to set up this interview, you told me you were in DC. What did you do there?
RG: I rallied with the High School Democrats of America in front of the Supreme Court, toured the White House, heard from three U.S senators, met Martin O’Malley, and learned from some young Capitol Hill staffers. After the summit, I stayed with friends and explored DC some more, even seeing the fireworks on the 4th of July.
DJ: What are you looking forward to at the convention?
RG: Meeting other young delegate from both campaigns. I’m interested in sharing how people became involved, and what they want to do going forward. Also, the people I’m going to the convention with were all Obama delegates in 2008. They’ve told me a lot about what to expect and I’m super excited about going to the various meetings and events. I’m especially looking forward to the Planned Parenthood event and the Clinton Super Volunteer group meeting.
DJ: Do you have any final thoughts?
RG: Everyone in the party should work to bring young people along and never discourage them. I’m lucky that the Kansas City group is so supportive of me. When there were events and I couldn’t go because I didn’t yet have a driver’s license, they’d come pick me up. When there was an expensive dinner, someone would say, “Oh, we have a sponsorship for a young person’s ticket.” You definitely want to get young people involved because we’re the future of the party. Bring us along now, teach us, so that someday we can take over for you.