Inspire Colorado's inaugural Youth-Led Candidate Forum took place at the History Colorado Center to give high school students in Colorado the opportunity to engage directly with candidates for state legislature on issues that are important to their demographic. Read more here about the successful evening of youth engagement.
On March 8th, before an audience of 60 students and community leaders, seven candidates for Colorado state offices answered questions on topics ranging from gun violence to college affordability. The Youth-led Candidate Forum was held at the History Colorado Center two blocks from Colorado’s shining state capitol. The candidates represented the full spectrum of political ideologies and the students’ questions highlighted the differences between them without encouraging any harsh rhetoric all too common in politics. Questions were written and delivered by the students with the assistance of moderator Luc Hatlestad, editor-at-large of 5280, Colorado’s most circulated local magazine. Our Inspired Leaders posed direct questions to their candidates on tough issues and listened attentively to their answers. During the closing remarks, each candidate praised students for their interest, commitment, and passion in facing these important issues head-on.
The entire evening was a perfect example of how young women and men, when given guidance and resources, will stand up and be heard. Our students stood confidently before their peers and local leaders to share concerns about various issues impacting their state and to vet the candidates vying for their votes.
While the candidates had the spotlight, our Inspired Leaders were the stars of the evening. From start to finish, students set the tone for civil, professional discourse with pointed questions and sincere interest. After the closing statements, many students stayed to meet the candidates and continue assessing their stance on the issues.
After the event, Cherokee Trail High School senior, Edita Dyer, told us “The candidate forum gave youth the opportunity to realize that anyone has the potential to grab hold of the political reins.” Rachel Owusu, a senior from Hinkley High School, said “Whatever our goal is we shouldn't give up, but instead push through with it until the people in authority realize it.” Our Inspired Leaders truly understand their importance in our democracy.
This event was an important step in uniting existing and prospective elected officials with their constituents. This, together with our Inspired Leaders’ voter registration and GOTV efforts, will continue to amplify the youth voice throughout our communities and will improve Colorado.