The election day of 2018 is just around the corner. When this date comes, the public will decide who they want to make our laws, set our taxes and determine the fate of our schools. With the stakes as high as they are, parents, teachers and even some students want to make sure their vote is an informed one.
To help the public learn where the candidates stand on issues, the Northwest PTSO organized the Meet The Candidates event, which was held on Tuesday Oct. 16 in the media center.
“Because of the fact that a lot of these candidates are unknown, we wanted to make sure our community got the chance to meet them,” PTSO advocacy chair Ashley Royal said.
The PTSO reached out to the candidates through email and social media. In total, 11 politicians from six races showed up to meet with attendees and discuss their policies and agendas.
The candidates were glad to get a chance to meet with new voters and students who will be voting soon.
“(Students) will be voters soon, and getting (them) involved in the political process is important,” county commissioner Justin Conrad said.
Conrad is the incumbent county commissioner for the third district of Guilford County. His challenging opponent, Tracy Lamothe likewise endorsed young people getting politically invested, and told of how getting involved in her community inspired her to run.
“I took the city academy class last year, and when I graduated from there I realized I could do a pretty good job as a city councilperson or county commissioner,” Lamothe said.
The subject of teacher pay was at the forefront of a lot of discussions. Many of the candidates seemed sympathetic to the plight of underfunded schools and teachers’ low salaries.
“One of the major goals (of the state senate) over the last six years has been to raise teacher pay,” state Senator Trudy Wade said. “We’ve done it every year I’ve been in office.”
Wade is currently running for her fourth term in office against Michael Garrett, whom she defeated in 2016 by a margin of about seven thousand votes.
Despite their differences in policy and political party, the candidates sent a uniformed message that they want to help people and see that their needs are met.
“We keep showing up places because we want people to know we really care about the problems people are facing,” United States House of Representatives candidate Ryan Watts said.
Watts’ opponent, two term incumbent Mark Walker did not attend the event.
With Meet The Candidates done, students and their families now know much more about those running to represent them, and can make informed decisions when they go to the polls this November. Even students not voting are now more politically aware and ready to become responsible citizens in the future.
“Even though most of the people I’ve talked to today can’t vote yet, it’s still really important for them to know that we care,” Watts said. “Young people need to be invested.”