The new chair of the Burlington Republican Committee is Kolby LaMarche, a 17-year-old senior at Burlington High School. He's not old enough to vote currently, but can hold the position because he will be 18 by the time of the next general election.
"I'm hoping that I can provide confidence and support to those who want to get involved with the Burlington Republican Party who are young," LaMarche told VPR's Morning Edition. "They just need someone to support them."
LaMarche explained that the chair is expected to call meetings, draft agendas and work with local candidates. He said his priority as Burlington GOP chair is to focus on getting people involved in elections and on the ballots.
"I think we need to start small and work our way up in how Burlington votes on us," LaMarche said.
LaMarche will have to balance his new responsibilities with high school classwork. However when it comes to his personal life and his political life, LaMarche said those two aspects don't often intersect.
"I'm proud to be gay and I'm also proud to be a Republican, and those two identities to me are absolutely separate," LaMarche said. "So my sexual orientation doesn't really influence my political beliefs."
LaMarche said an exception to that separation is his support for gay marriage. He also added that he hasn't really experienced negative responses to his sexual orientation in his work with the GOP in Vermont.
"It gives me a place to go. It's provided me with multiple friends, given me mentors, great opportunities," LaMarche said of the Republican Party. "I don't always agree with what our party does. I don't always agree with what our candidates do. But I want to support and promote change. I don't want to abandon the party at its lowest point."
His election to party chair as a teenager isn't the first time LaMarche has been the subject of local news coverage: he made headlines in 2017 over his use of the Hindu swastika symbol as his email avatar. LaMarche told VPR that he does not regret the decision, but wanted to clarify the intent was "to provide information" about the original use of the symbol.