Young Republicans and Young Democrats are holding a student-led political debate this Thursday, April 5 at 6 p.m. at the Warren County High School auditorium.
This event is for all candidates for circuit court clerk, county commission, trustee, register of deeds, county executive and sheriff.
Psychology teacher Laura Lippe, who doubles as the faculty advisor for the Young Republicans, says the Young Republican and Young Democrat clubs were created when the students and social studies teachers saw a need for a political outlet.
“Students were interested in politics and government, but had no outlet for that enthusiasm and curiosity,” said Lippe. “We created the clubs to give our students a platform. I believe it’s crucial to get our young people involved in local politics and local government. They are the future of Warren County, so we need to support them and give them a platform to connect to their communities to make it better.”
Both clubs have guest speakers come to discuss and further educate them on politics. The Young Republicans have met with Janice Bowling and Scott DesJarlais, and even helped with Bowling’s campaign in Warren County.
For the Young Democrats, Craig Fitzhugh, Melanie Milstead and Steven Reynolds have stopped by to speak with the teens. Together, the clubs have held a voter registration drive at the high school to register seniors to vote in the upcoming election and assisted families from the community that are in need by donating items.
In preparation for Thursday, the students have come up with the questions for the specific races that will be used in the debate.
“For one thing, as a student body we’ve been underestimated in the political community,” said senior Misa Jefferson, member of the Young Democrats. “We go to the Democratic meetings on the first of every month and we’ve been told by some of the candidates that they would rather go to a debate with the seniors because that’s who vote, so if we don’t show them that we are politically active then we’re underestimated and that’s our future.”
Rachel Johnson, senior and member of the Young Republicans, also chimed in about the importance of holding this debate at the high school.
“A bunch of us have just turned 18 and can vote and we don’t know anything about the candidates so it’s a good way for us to learn about them and what they plan to do,” said Rachel.
When asked what they’d like to say to the public about this event, several of the students spoke up.
“I hope as many of them can come out and watch the candidates speak. I think it is going to be a good event and I hope a lot of people show up.” – Logan Kell
“It is very important to get to know the candidates and officials that hold power in this county. It is not very easy on a local level to go and do your research on the internet and find websites that provide their track records for these people so this debate is really about getting to know more about them and providing information for the voters.” – Connor Bruce
“I want everyone to remember that the Young Republicans and Young Democrats have done this as a bipartisan project and so although it’s a debate, I think it is important that everyone remembers that it is a uniting thing. It’s not a faction-based event.” – Misa Jefferson
The debate will be aired on BLTV channel 180.