Healdsburg wunderkind pounded pavement for Elizabeth Warren in Iowa
It wasn’t easy, but Jackson Boaz found a window in his packed schedule to sit down with a reporter this week. He suggested meeting at Plank, a coffee shop in his hometown of Healdsburg.
Asked when he started drinking coffee, Boaz recalled his time in 2018 working on the successful Healdsburg school board campaign of Mike Potmesil. “I wasn’t sleeping much,” he said, “and I needed it.”
Those were heady days. “I’d never run a campaign before,” he recalled. That makes sense, considering he was 13 at the time.
Now, as a hard-boiled 15-year-old who happens to be president of his ninth grade class at Healdsburg High School, Boaz is a seasoned political veteran who recently returned from Iowa. He spent two weeks working on the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, a time he describes as “the craziest, most rewarding, most exhausting experience of my life.”
Boaz, the son of Healdsburg fire chief Jason Boaz, has packed plenty of politics into his 15 years. On a recent Wednesday, however, he wasn’t interested in talking about Wine Country Young Democrats — he’s the president of that group, as well — or his internships with State Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, or Congressman Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena.
“I’d really like to talk about Warren,” said the wunderkind, who shared a hug and a conversation with the candidate the day before the Iowa Caucuses.
Rather than dwell on her third place Iowa finish, Boaz called attention to “the coalition Elizabeth Warren has been able to build,” and the fact she won the most votes in both the state’s most conservative and progressive counties.
Explaining his affinity for the Senator from Massachusetts, Boaz calls to mind a mix of David Axelrod and Doogie Howser. Citing the “unprecedented issues that my generation’s going to have to deal with,” he points to her raft of detailed policies.
“I consider myself a nerd, and being able to go on her website and read, in detail, every single one of her plans for every issue we face — that’s really valuable to me,” he said.
Among his political mentors is Ariel Kelley, a Permit Sonoma commissioner and Healdsburg resident who recalled sitting at a table next to Boaz at the Flying Goat coffee shop in Healdsburg two years ago. He was being interviewed by a woman who needed a consultant for her school board run. (She decided, in the end, not to run.) Kelley remembers Boaz asking the woman questions like, “What makes you want to run for school board?” and “How is your voice unique from the other voices represented on the board?”
Asked if he reminds her of herself at that age, she replied, “Not at all. He is so much more together, and focused, and determined than I was — even in law school — let alone, when I was 15.”
Navigating the “All In For Warren” website in November, Boaz saw an offer to “Winter With Warren” — encouraging students to spend their winter break in Iowa, knocking doors for the campaign.
One problem: the program was intended for college students. Campaign officials told Boaz he was welcome, but would have to line up his own lodging — which he did.