Saturday, September 23, 2006

Mayoral Candidates Face Off

Last night I helped out at the Neighborhood Candidate Forum at the San Jose High Academy. It was really neat to see the two candidates for City Council District 3, Manny Diaz and Sam Liccardo, as well as the candidates for Mayor, Cindy Chavez and Chuck Reed. I was there to help as part of my local politics class. The forum was sponsored by CommUniverCity, collaboration between community groups, San Jose State University, and the City. The forum was very well attended; there were easily 250 people there, probably closer to 300.

I am not completely on top of the issues relating to District 3, but it was great to see the candidates for both offices and hear from them in person. I thought it was awesome that so many of the neighborhood groups were able to participate and ask questions of the candidates. The best part was that they also allowed people in the audience to submit questions. The people there were just ordinary people asking questions and getting (mostly) honest answers from the candidates. Too often we are detached from politics, campaigning is mostly done on TV instead of person to person. As the saying goes, all politics is local, and this was an example of politics as local as it can get.

The biggest surprise to me was that more people seemed to be interested in the city council race rather than the mayor's race. There were a number of people that only stayed for the first half and left when it was time to hear from Chavez and Reed. I would have expected the opposite.

Some of us that were helping went out for pizza after the main event was over and I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to the people that put the whole event together. CommUniverCity is a great concept, trying to get different groups to work together to benefit a struggling community. This was one of the first service-learning projects I have been involved in since high school. It is a great idea, and I hope that I can help out more in the future.

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