The day before Spring Break is always unproductive, right? Not this year. Instead of simply conversing with friends about holiday plans and projects, members of 274 received the unique opportunity to listen and ask questions to the candidates in the 2015 mayoral election. This event allowed individuals in government and social science classes to take a hands-on approach to civic engagement.
This year’s mayoral race is expected to be one of the most competitive in years; the diverse pool of declared candidates has provoked this expectation. On the Democratic side, the list of candidates includes: City-Councilman James Kenney, former State Senator Milton Street, PGW VP Doug Oliver, Judge Nelson Diaz, Attorney Lynne Abraham and State Senator Anthony Williams. Meanwhile, the sole Republican is businesswoman Melissa Murray Bailey. All seven candidates were given two minutes each for brief opening statements before being asked individual questions by students.
274 students asked the candidates questions ranging from various topics; from the elimination of corruption to retention of millennials within the city. Although the candidates all expressed similar goals for office, their approaches to solving problems differed greatly. For instance, in response to a question about school funding and efficiency, Doug Oliver stated his desire to relegate the SRC to a regulatory role, while Nelson Diaz expressed his strong feelings by simply stating, “We need to get rid of the SRC.” Such idiosyncrasies in beliefs existed with all candidates, thus allowing for competitive debate between mayoral hopefuls.
The student body enjoyed the event; Sandy Tang (274) stated, “I think it is great that candidates took the time to visit us at our school…it really lets us know a lot more about the candidates before we vote in the upcoming primary.”
Based upon exit polls, Doug Oliver came out as the favorite in CHS because of his appeal to the younger audience. He connected with students by imploring them to share his responses via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and even expressed his interest in Jay-Z’s rap music.
Overall, the mayoral forum augmented Central’s interest in politics, even amongst underclassmen. “It is great that they came. Even though I could not attend, the event has increased my desire to get more involved in politics,” says Miguel Morel (276). Such events are integral to a school because they remind students about their civic duties as young voters.
Ashish Dahal (275)