Candidates encourage millennials to show up at polls

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Mayoral candidate Ron Nirenberg takes a group selfie before reading tweets from the Hot Seat segment with Manuel Medina using the #Sanl17 April 1 at Brick at Blue Star Arts Complex. About 300 people, mainly college students, showed up to San Antonio Night Live, a youth forum presented by Mobilize Organize Vote Empower San Antonio to learn about the candidates for City Council. Photo by Bismarck D. Andino

Voter drive registered 407 Alamo Colleges students.

By Bismarck D. Andino

About 300 people, mainly college students, learned about the mayoral and city council candidates’ policy agendas during San Antonio Night Live, where candidates demonstrated their sense of humor April 1 at Brick at Blue Star Arts Complex.

The event included a policy pizza segment, where a slice of paper pizza symbolized the city of San Antonio.

Each candidate chose four “toppings,” or policy issues, to customize their  pizza. Issues included transportation, infrastructure, education, housing and health.

During the talent segment, mayoral candidate Manuel Medina danced cumbia with  host Molly Cox, while opponent Ron Nirenberg sang and dedicated the song “All My Loving” by The Beatles, to his wife.

Tristan Garcia, computer science sophomore at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said he learned about this event through a classroom presentation when Mobilize Organize Vote Empower San Antonio did a voter registration drive at UTSA.

Sixty students from his class registered that day.

“I think it’s a great thing what they’re doing. I like that they are nonpartisan and that they’re not here to sell the Democratic Party over the Republican Party,” Garcia said.

He also said candidates found common ground on what needs to be addressed citywide. However, he believes this city needs to focus on public school funding and the cost for college, especially with today’s tuition, housing, textbooks and other expenses.

According to H. Drew Galloway, MOVE San Antonio executive director, this can be in part due to the lack of participation from millennials, people born between 1982 and 2004.

“The average age of a citizen in San Antonio is 34 years old and the average age of voters in 2015 was 63,” Galloway said. “If we want them to talk about the stuff that we care about and talk our issues, we have to get involved and we have to vote.”

Nirenberg said millennials should get involved with this city and demand accountability and solutions for public transportation, safety, jobs and the economy.

“Young people in this community are disenfranchising themselves when they don’t go and vote.” he said. “The reason why that’s important is because young people have the most to lose through bad policy. The more young people stay away from the polls, the worse our city would get.

“We need them to be at the polls to make their voices heard or all of those policies will be ignored,” Nirenberg said.

Medina has seen a steady participation from millennials at local elections. However, he hopes for massive participation like in November during the presidential election.

“This generation of Americans are the future architects, engineers, doctors and why not the next mayor of the city of San Antonio,” he said. “Young people, 18 to 30-year-olds are going to make the difference.

“If they do that in May, then they are going to see candidates like myself, more of us, talking about minimum wage, about making sure that we have affordable housing, and that we have issues addressed that directly impact the lives of young people in San Antonio,” Medina said.

In 2016, MOVE registered 8,568 students across San Antonio, including this college.       Two weeks ago, they registered 407 young people in six hours at the Alamo Colleges during Voter Registration Day, he said.

Madison Porras, MOVE San Antonio intern, registered students at this college.

“We have a big presence on all the campuses, especially at SAC, and we actually have a very good relationship with SGA,” Porras said. “They’re all deputized to register people to vote … they are very passionate about it, and we are very passionate about being at all the Alamo Colleges.” 

Galloway also reminded students to take advantage of their telephone capabilities by texting MOVE to 57711 to receive automatic text reminders of when it is time to vote.

Early voting starts April 24 and continues through May 2, and election day is May 6.


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