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Posts Tagged ‘Alhambra Teachers Association’

Candidates-forum-3Alhambra’s future voters took their role seriously as part of the 420 residents and students who attended the Kids and Candidates – A Community Engagement Forum on October 11 at Alhambra High School.

More than 100 Alhambra High School students gained inspiration to become more civically involved as they staffed the event, asked issue-based questions and engaged in one-on-one discussions with the three attending City Council candidates.

“This is not your usual candidates’ forum,” said Alhambra Unified School District Superintendent Denise R. Jaramillo, in her opening remarks preceding the candidates’ round-table discussion. “One of the things that makes it unique is that it’s being hosted by students and sponsored by so many community groups.” Forum sponsors included the Alhambra Teachers Association, Alhambra Preservation Group, Alhambra Latino Association, Grassroots Alhambra and Alhambra Source.

The format was also unique. The free event kicked off with a Community Engagement Fair in the Alhambra High School quad, where students and residents interacted one-on-one with the three City Council candidates, enjoyed a lively performance by the Alhambra High School Jazz Band, and visited information tables staffed by school and community groups.

Then the kids and candidates got down to business. Alhambra City Council candidates Katherine Lee and Andrea Lofthouse-Quesada, both running for the First District City Council seat, and Adele Andrade-Stadler, running for the Fifth District, engaged in a robust, politically neutral roundtable discussion, moderated by Tom Hollihan, professor and director of doctoral studies at USC Annenberg School of Communications. Candidates Suzi Dunkel-Soto, Laura Tellez-Gagliano, Ross Maza and Julian Reyes were invited but declined to attend.

Alhambra High School students’ and residents’ questions included the hot-button issues of affordable housing, traffic congestion, bike lanes, need for more green space, historic preservation and a historic preservation ordinance, how to encourage civic engagement in a diverse community, and how to market Alhambra’s cultural assets to visitors. The goal of the Kids and Candidates Forum was to provide students and residents with an opportunity to hear the candidates’ positions on these issues, according to the organizing coalition members.

Mission accomplished, according to the students. “This impacts my perspective on American politics because by hearing what these candidates have to say, it gives not only me but all of us a view into political matters so that when we will be of voting age, it will help shape who we feel can make the best contribution to our world,” said Amanda Tang,  16, a junior at Alhambra High School.

According to feedback from the survey handed out at the end of the event, a majority of the attendees found the forum helpful in their voting decisions, but were disappointed not to hear from all the City Council candidates and felt it was disrespectful of the four candidates not participating.

“Through my participation in this forum I have learned that you can make your voice heard no matter if you are under the age of 18. You just have to find the right places,” said Jonathan Reynosa, 16, a junior at Alhambra High. “I believe my role in civic matters in the future will be to inspire others in my generation and in other generations to go out and make their voices heard. I want to inspire people to create change in our community. Being able to ask questions directly to the candidates has affected my view on politics. This forum has made me confident in my own opinions and encouraged me to make my voice heard not only in political affairs just in California, but all over America.”

Weren’t able to attend? No worries. Here’s your chance to watch the forum.

Photo courtesy of Oscar Amaro.

 

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