San Diego County High School Students To Host 49th District Forum
Pacific Ridge School students in Preston Peeden’s class took Friday to catch up on the week’s political news. They’d need to know the latest to craft relevant questions for a 49th Congressional District forum being held at the school 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“See what’s changed. See if there are any polling figures,” Peeden suggested. “See if the San Diego Republican Party has handed out its endorsement.”
Peeden’s class is co-hosting the event with students from the La Jolla Country Day School, which has put on debates in the past. But LJCDS senior Ben Gollin said this year’s event feels especially meaningful after watching youth step out onto the national stage following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“You hear a lot that the youth aren’t interested in voting or interested in politics, and I think that the more that we speak out and advocate, the more that we can change that opinion,” he said.
LJCDS Teacher Jonathan Shulman said the students coming of age during the Trump presidency are poised to do so.
“The benefit of so much of the political conflict of the last couple of years is that the students have stepped up and realized this is something they need to get involved in and this is something where they have a voice, and that voice counts,” Shulman said.
The students plan to press the candidates on gun legislation, the economy, immigration and the environment. PRS junior Rebecca Shields has been following the #MeToo movement and said she hopes to include questions on gender inequality and sexual assault, too.
“That was really a way to grow for me because it was not just thinking about what I personally feel is important, but going beyond to try and consider the voices of the entire district,” Shields said of the planning process.
The forum is not open to the general public but will be livestreamed on Vimeo. Seven of the 16 candidates have confirmed they’re attending the forum: Libertarian candidate Joshua Hancock; Democratic candidates Sara Jacobs, Paul Kerr and Mike Levin; Republican candidates Brian Maryott and Joshua Schoonover; and Peace and Libertarian candidate Jordan Mills.
Voice of San Diego editor and CEO Scott Lewis will moderate, but Peeden said he’s getting direction from the students.
“This is their voice, their hopes and their questions,” he said. “And it’s going to be awesome to see.”