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Politics come alive for Vancouver high school students


The above video includes highlights from the event. You can view the full event here.

Heritage High School students host political forum for 10 local candidates  

VANCOUVER — Area students stepped into the election season discussion by hosting their own political forum for 10 candidates running for state and federal offices, yesterday evening.

Heritage High School’s AP Government class put on a open house and public forum last night on their home turf. The event began as meet-and-greet with candidates, followed by a time of opening statements and finally, questions from audience members.

Students and community members gather in Heritage High School’s auditorium to hear from local candidates in a open, public forum Thursday night. Photo by Mike Schultz
Students and community members gather in Heritage High School’s auditorium to hear from local candidates in a open, public forum Thursday night. Photo by Mike Schultz

The forum welcomed such candidates as Carolyn Long (D) of the 3rd Congressional District race, Vicki Kraft (R) incumbent of the 17th Legislative District, with her opponent Tanisha Harris (D) as well as Brandon Vick (R) incumbent of 18th Legislative District, with his opponent Chris Thobaben (D).

Topics ranged from transportation concerns and the I-5 bridge, to candidate’s opinions on recent Washington state legislation.

The entire night was set-up, moderated and participated in, by students.

“They were supposed to research the candidates and figure out some of the issues that were local,” said Darcy Haberl, AP Government and Current World Issues teacher at Heritage High School. “If I could just do this every year, and Heritage becomes the place for the political [forums], I’d kinda like to see that connection.”

With more than 50 community members in attendance, the pace of the evening was lively, with a new question about every 10 minutes. The student moderator stepped in only a handful of times to limit the back-and-forth comments between audience members and candidates.   

Throughout the night, many candidates expressed their support for more school-based forums, and the importance they place on educating young voters:

“It’s great to be in this school setting,” said Kathy Gillespie (D), who is running against Larry Hoff (R) for the second position in the 18th Legislative District. “I’m very hopeful about the future of Clark County, and very grateful to have been with you all tonight.”

Incumbent candidate for the second position in the 18th Legislative District, Brandon Vick (R), responds to audience questions at a student-run forum at Heritage High School on Oct. 4. Photo by Mike Schultz
Incumbent candidate for the second position in the 18th Legislative District, Brandon Vick (R), responds to audience questions at a student-run forum at Heritage High School on Oct. 4. Photo by Mike Schultz

“While I would love for you to vote for a lot more republicans … make those decisions on your own, based on the person and what they’ve done,” said Brandon Vick (R) incumbent for position one of the 18th Legislative District. “We have a job review every two years, that’s what this is.”

“You are the future of democracy,” said Carolyn Long (D), who is running to represent the 3rd Congressional District. “I look everyday into the eyes of my students and I tell them the same thing.”

Candidate for the 3rd Congressional District, Carolyn Long (D), gives her opening statements at Thursday’s public forum, hosted by Heritage High Schools AP Government class. Photo by Mike Schultz
Candidate for the 3rd Congressional District, Carolyn Long (D), gives her opening statements at Thursday’s public forum, hosted by Heritage High Schools AP Government class. Photo by Mike Schultz

“I am telling you as young people, integrity and telling the truth, is so critical,” said Vicki Kraft (R) the incumbent of the first position for the 17th Legislative District. “Whether we disagree or not …, the bottom line is, I need to be able to tell you what I’m going to do, and then I need to go do it.”

Members of the Heritage High School administration were also in attendance, and showed strong support for the event early on, said Haberl.

It is the hope of the Heritage AP Government class, to hold more forums like this in the future; creating a network of politically savvy students in schools across the county, said Haberl.

“I’d kinda like for them [candidates] to come to us for endorsements from our kids,” Haberl said. “If kids are involved in a political campaign, then they vote and they stay involved.”

To see highlights of the forum, check out our video coverage accompanying this article. For video coverage of the entire forum as well one-on-one interviews with several of the candidates, check back Monday on our YouTube channel.

Candidate for the second position in the 17th Legislative District, Damion Jiles (D), talks with students during a meet-and-greet session prior to the forum. Photo by Mike Schultz
Candidate for the second position in the 17th Legislative District, Damion Jiles (D), talks with students during a meet-and-greet session prior to the forum. Photo by Mike Schultz

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About The Author

Jacob Granneman

Jacob Granneman is a filmmaker and writer from Clark County. He is a recent graduate of Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College, where he studied media production. He has produced documentary stories all over the Pacific Northwest and in Argentina. His passions range from loving people, to cinematography, to going on adventures in the most beautiful place on earth, i.e. his backyard. He lives with his wife in Vancouver, WA.

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