ADRIAN - Several candidates in Lenawee County's fall political races spoke to students last night - students who can't vote for them.
The newly formed Political Science Association at Adrian College sponsored a forum to aid students in better understanding state and local issues. About 40 students and staff attended the event on campus.
State Rep. Doug Spade (D., Adrian) and his challenger Republican Fred Gallagher spoke about their race. Also on hand were Lenawee County sheriff candidate Larry Richardson, current State Sen. Bev Hammerstrom (R., Temperance), and former State Sen. Jim Berryman, who spoke to students about the Michigan school voucher proposal.
Brent Faber, 18, of Grand Rapids, Mich., spent last night listening to the candidates, although he will be voting via absentee ballot in his home district.
Most of the other students attending the forum, also will be voting by absentee ballot in their home districts.
A political science major, Mr. Faber said he felt satisfied that he learned not only about issues that were important to him, but also gained a better perspective of how government works.
“Even if I'm not in this district, things like this forum make you aware that there is an election going on and that it is an important one,” he said. “I'm not necessarily concerned about Medicare, but there are issues going on during this campaign that will affect me.”
Political Science Professor Kimberly Davis said the forum was assembled after students expressed an interest in more information about local and state politics. As adviser for three newly formed political groups - Political Science Association, Young Republicans, and Young Democrats - Ms. Davis said she sees more and more political activity in today's youth.
“There is a lot of interest out there. And if they are given an opportunity to put their questions into perspective, they tend to figure out how politics affects them,” she said.
Ms. Davis reminded the group that it was only in 1971 that 18-year-olds were entitled to vote by passage of the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“I don't buy that today's young are apathetic,” she added. “Lack of voting does not necessarily mean that young adults don't care.”
Mr. Spade said he was well aware that the majority of the room would not be able to vote on the ballot on which his name will appear. But he made the time to speak to them to show students how important they are in the political process, he said.
“I think it's very important that they know how serious this is that they need to become involved,” he asserted. “There are far too many young people who don't participate. We need to support those who do get out there and get involved.”
Brock Cannon, 21, a senior marketing major, who is treasurer of the Political Science Association and helped organize the event, said: “We had a lot of important people here tonight, and I'm pleased that so many students recognized that and came out.”
Mr. Cannon said each candidate in the sheriff's race was invited to the forum. He added that he believed the top issues for students on his campus were education and abortion.
Bill Green, a Republican challenger for District 7 on the Lenawee County commission, and Dick Bailey, Republican challenger for District 8, also spoke at the event.