Who can build a #BetterSD? It's exam time for San Diego's mayoral candidates at upcoming Youth Forum

Posted: Friday, January 24th 2020

Candidates for San Diego Mayor interact with Hoover High students at a January 16 candidate forum

Before they earn the right to lead San Diego’s 1.4 million residents, the candidates for Mayor will have to answer questions from the city’s young people. 

On February 5, at the downtown Central Library, students from San Diego Unified will take part in a unique forum for the mayoral candidates. The event was conceived by the Office of the Public Defender to help young people interact directly with the elected officials who help shape their future.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our students to share their hopes for the future with the next Mayor of San Diego,” says Richard Barrera, who represents central San Diego on the Board of Education. Barrera plans to present a resolution at the Board of Education meeting next week urging all students to take part in the forum.

The forum is open to any student who would like to attend, but seating is limited. Students can sign up online through this form. The district is offering free school bus transportation to the library from any school where significant numbers of students have signed up to participate. The Library is also offering free parking that evening to anyone in attendance.

"Many of us will be voting for the first time this year, and all of us will be impacted by the outcome," said Eva Shultz, a student at San Diego High and leader of her school's Chavistas club. "This event is critical for our city's youth to get an up-close look at the candidates who will shape our future."

Student leaders across the city agree.

"It is imperative for the next voting generation to be involved and educated in their city government, and this is a remarkable opportunity to let our voices be heard," said Point Loma High student Ila Komasa, who also serves as President of the SDUSD Council of ASB Presidents.

Union-Tribune Editorial Page Editor and San Diego Unified parent Matt Hall will moderate the mayoral forum. Questions have been suggested by students and the theme for the evening will be the future of our city. The Public Defender's Office has also arranged for free food and refreshments following the forum to give students a chance to interact directly with the candidates.

Morse High student Diego Estrada, President of the Inspire U.S. club at his school, says it's important to get this younger generation involved early. "We are the ones who have to live with the decisions made by leaders today," he said. "Meeting with the Mayor and Supervisors provides us with the opportunity to engage our communities on local issues, in particular youth engagement in under-represented communities."

The forum will begin at 6pm on February 5 with the reception scheduled for 7:30pm. The event will be held in the Neil Morgan Auditorium at the Central Library, 330 Park Blvd. A second forum has been scheduled for the following evening, February 6, with the candidates for County Supervisor. That forum also begins at 6pm and will be followed by a reception.

San Diego Unified has placed a renewed emphasis on civics education and learning in recent years in response to community input. Parent priorities like civics education are included in the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) adopted annually by all California schools. All San Diego Unified students receive an education in civics education, and schools also provide additional opportunities for leadership. The Youth Councils created in partnership with the Office of the Public Defender are examples of student-directed work to strengthen the San Diego community.

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