Guest post written by Bus Project Executive Director, Nikki Fisher.
I approached Cameron Whitten, Executive Director of Know Your City, months ago about doing a candidate forum targeted at young people and folks in the Portland region. At the time, a ton of young people, including young politicos couldn’t distinguish who was running for mayor and their values. Cameron and I began drafting out a format of the event and to our surprise– folks were excited to engage.
After finishing my event with Cameron on Friday, I’m both thankful for his leadership but also thankful for the level of dedication and commitment Cameron has to ensure the success of his organization but also ours. I think Cameron’s values are directly tied to ensuring our community is a little more engaged and that means a little bit better off.
The most common misconception is that young people don’t vote. Young people vote almost at nearly the rate of older votes but just are not registered. By hosting events like America’s Next Top Candidate– we see young people wanting their elected officials to answer tough questions, they want their elected officials to laugh and have fun and show up.
I had a handful of friends who had never been to any political event before and had planned to leave at 7:30 to watch the basketball game, but ended up staying until the very end. They said it was great to actually see candidates say yes or no to questions. They said it was refreshing to hear them gives answers that mattered about questions they didn’t always have rehearsed answers for. They said it was exciting to see some tiny bit of humanity in each of the candidates.
A lot of people had not made of their mind about candidates, but left feeling like they could make an educated decision. This wouldn’t have happened without the leadership of Cameron and folks at Know Your City. I have a campaign background and often worry about the elections that come down to 3 or 5 people and I know this event will have rippling impacts on our community and this election.
Thanks to those who listened and participated in making this event a huge success.