'Don't count us out': Maxwell Frost could be the 1st Gen Z member of Congress

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At 25 years old, Maxwell Alejandro Frost is hoping to make history as the first Generation Z member of Congress and represent Florida’s 10th Congressional District in the House.

After winning the Democratic primary on Aug. 23, Frost is running against Republican Calvin Wimbish, and the winner will succeed Rep. Val Demings, who’s vying for a Senate seat. According to FiveThirtyEight’s election simulation model, it’s “very likely” that Frost will win in November.

“My mom came here from Cuba when she was young with nothing. And now her son is going to go to Congress,” Frost told Yahoo News.

Running for Congress was not at the top of the Orlando native’s career aspirations until supporters asked him to get on the ballot. “I was actually asked to run by organizers that I protested with during the Black Lives Matter uprising [after the death of George Floyd in 2020].”

At first, Frost was a little skeptical about running for office, he said. He was adopted at a young age, but a phone conversation with his biological mother quickly changed his perspective on running for the seat.

“Learning about our life, learning about the struggles she went through, learning about the fact that she had me at one of the most vulnerable points in her life,” Frost told Yahoo News. “I hung up the phone, and I said I need to run for Congress for people like my biological mother, for people like my mother, for people like my father, for my community, for the place that I was born and raised.”

It’s no secret that Florida, led by Republican firebrand Gov. Ron DeSantis, is prone to political controversy. Frost said he sees a need for bold progressive leadership there. Recently the Sunshine State has been in the news, “from what’s going on with our governor to, you know, what happened with our former president. So we have a lot of work to do here in this state,” he explained.

After Frost decided to run for office, he quit his job and worked as an Uber driver to stay afloat financially. “I was the national organizing director of March for Our Lives,” he said. “As a candidate, I don’t get paid. So I needed money to pay for my food and pay for my bills. So I went pretty hard [as an Uber driver] for a month and a half to make enough money to sustain me till the end. So I could focus on the campaign.”

Now Frost is focused on making it to Washington, D.C., and shaking things up. Addressing gun violence, the affordable housing crisis and climate change are among his top priorities.

One of the most pressing issues for Frost is gun violence. Florida has lost numerous lives to it and was the site of mass shootings like those at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

In June in an incident that went viral, Frost approached the stage as DeSantis was doing an interview with commentator Dave Rubin and asked him to “take action on gun violence.” DeSantis responded, “Nobody wants to hear from you” as security dragged Frost away.

“Gun violence is an issue that touches almost every community,” Frost told Yahoo News. “We need more advocates and vocal champions in Congress that are going to fight to end this problem.”

For Frost, the issue is personal. “I’ve become a survivor of gun violence myself,” he said. “I was in downtown Orlando on Halloween, two guys had a problem. One of them pulled out a gun and started shooting. And me and hundreds of other people were sprinting, running away, finding safety. You know, everyone who ran that night is a survivor of gun violence,” he recalled.

The affordable housing crisis is also part of Frost’s platform, as rent prices continue to increase nationwide. “We are at a moment in time here in Orlando where we are experiencing one of the worst affordable housing crises in the entire country,” he said.

In addition, Frost said climate change is another issue he plans to tackle if he makes it to the nation’s capital. Frost said the climate crisis is a problem that gets passed down from generation to generation without a solution. “It’s an existential crisis; Florida is ground zero for it, we’re already feeling the effects,” he said. “And so the cost of not doing anything is far greater than the cost of taking bold action.”

The House candidate is pushing to solve key issues that affect his state and the country, but he realizes it’s not an overnight job. This race, Frost says, is about building power. “I am one piece of a bigger puzzle. I am not the end-all be-all. Voting one person in won’t completely change everything. But it puts us in a place where we can get there a little faster.

“I also want our campaign to serve as a message to everybody: Don’t count us out. Don’t count young people out. Invest resources and training in propping up young voices. And it’s not that our government needs to be all young people; I don’t believe that — we need to be at the table, though,” he added.

As Frost campaigns for the congressional seat, he rejects the typical Democrats-versus-Republicans notion. Instead, he said, “It’s about the people versus the problem.”