Students take on politics

Middle school to bring in voting booths for mock election
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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A day before the election, area students were finding a way to localize national and state races that have energized constituents nationwide. Del Oro High School students held a presidential debate Monday afternoon. Five students represented Democratic candidate Barack Obama, four debated John McCain’s platform and one presented the Libertarian candidate Bob Barr’s campaign. In front of a packed audience of students at the high school’s auditorium, the students answered questions, including why their candidate is the best choice for students, their candidate’s stance on the war in Iraq, and their candidate’s vice presidential picks. Senior Kathleen Poulson said students should vote for McCain because he will cut taxes and make it easier for people to sell their homes. In turn, she said Obama’s plan “destroys the American dream” by punishing the more wealthy citizens. Jared Rohe, a sophomore, countered that Obama will “empower” individuals and make it possible for more people to be successful. He will do this by cutting taxes for the middle class, Rohe said. When it came time to talk about the Iraq war, senior Cassie Sohn said she supports Obama’s plan to pull out troops in 16 months. “The death toll is increasing daily,” Sohn said. “Given our current economic course it makes no sense for our country to stay in the war.” Brad Fischer, a senior, said McCain’s military experience means he knows what it means to be fighting a war and therefore would be a better commander in chief. “If we pull out now, it will result in failure,” Fischer said. Danny Outlaw, a senior who represented Barr, had a chance to offer comments during an opening and closing statement. He said there is a need for change but that Obama and McCain did not have supportive ideas. “If you want real change, start thinking of a third party,” Outlaw said. Sophomore Ciera Clark said she listened to the debate with interest. She said it was helpful to hear about the issues from her peers. “It helped me a lot,” Clark said. “I would vote for Barack Obama because I feel we definitely need the change.” Up the freeway and on a smaller scale, E.V. Cain School eighth-graders in Sylvia Haverberg’s American history class made presentations about the candidates and state propositions. Students made posters and gave brief speeches as to why their classmates, who will vote in a mock election today, should choose one choice over the other. Sammie Leigon, 13, argued against Proposition 3, which would provide funding for children’s hospitals. Leigon’s groups said one of the reasons against the proposition is there was no guarantee the money would be used for children. Leigon said she is not sure how she would vote in this election if she could. “This election is really big for our generation but if I were to vote I wouldn’t know who to vote for,” Leigon said. Haverberg said she and fellow teacher Kathy Koester will hang the student’s posters outside today next to the voting booths. Haverberg said she can feel the election excitement among students. “This is huge,” Haverberg said. “No matter what happens we’re getting a new president tomorrow and these guys are aware of that.” The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at or post a comment.