18-year-old running for mayor of small mountain town

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. -- This is not a story about politics, but about an unusually young political candidate.

Town elections in Montezuma are coming up and 18-year-old Benjamin Goff’s name is on the ballot. The high school senior is running for his town’s top spot against incumbent Mayor Lesley Davis.

“This might look like a joke saying '18-year-old runs for mayor.' If this was a joke I wouldn’t be running for mayor,” Goff said.

He said he is quite serious about his candidacy and his potential to affect change in his small community. He said he is running because he doesn’t like the way things have changed in Montezuma.

“I’m only 18 but if it takes an 18-year-old to do it, so be it,” he said.

Montezuma is often considered a “ghost town.” The population is 65 when considering owners, renters and second-home owners.

However, residents guess the year-round population is closer to 40 or 50.

Winning enough votes to secure the mayor’s seat won’t be an easy task for the young challenger.

Some residents, who wished to remain anonymous, said they don’t believe Goff is mature enough or qualified to manage a town.

Plus, there are concerns about his commitment to the position once he leaves for college in the fall. Goff will be attending Northeastern Junior College in Sterling. He wants to become a firefighter.

When asked how he will juggle his course load, his potential mayoral duties and living more than three hours away from Montezuma, he said, “We have emails. I have a car. I don’t think it’ll be a problem.”

Goff also suggested rescheduling town meetings for Saturdays or later in the evenings so he could commute back and forth for town business during the school year.

He said the logistical challenges and criticism from some residents are not stopping his quest to become mayor.

“I go to high school. I deal with people criticizing me all the time,” Goff said. “If they can do it, I can do it.”

He already has one campaign sign made that he plans to post on the road that runs through Montezuma. He also plans to print pamphlets with his political platforms.

“I’m just going to go door-to-door and say hey, I want to be the mayor,” he said.

If Goff wins, he said that would make him the youngest person to be elected mayor in Montezuma.

His stepdad, Paul Hinkley, currently holds the record. He said he was elected to the position when he was 19 or 20 years old and held the seat for nearly two decades.