Forum connects candidates with younger voters

GenNext hosts Nov. 2 forum for Penticton council candidates

  • Oct. 25, 2011 7:00 p.m.

If the next generation gets a vote, why not make it an informed choice?

That’s what GenNext Penticton had in mind as they get set to host an all-candidates forum for those seeking to hold the title of councillor, scheduled for next Wednesday at Opus Café and Bistro.

“We’re hoping it will bring out more young people in Penticton to get involved in the election and get the information on the candidates,” said Renee Schultz, GenNext vice-chair.

Organizers decided to focus just on council candidates after seeing the vast list of names and realizing they would have to choose their representatives based on piecemeal information.

“There’s so many council candidates this year. There’s way less mayor candidates, so we thought people will have a better sense about who they want out of five,” Schultz said. “For me, there’s so many candidates for city council that it makes the decision tough.”

She also said that younger generations often turn to the web for information, but not all local candidates have websites or an online presence.

“A lot of people educate themselves by what’s been written on the Internet,” she said. “It would be so much easier to just come, sit down in one room and listen to all of them speak.”

The forum is just one event in a series of activities GenNext will plan as a way to draw out youth and younger generations into community involvement.

Chair Katie Bowling said that the non-profit group was kick-started last year by the United Way, and modelled off of GenNext programs throughout North America that provide professional networking and casual socialization all while strengthening community connections.

“Our mission is to engage the next generation of leaders to create lasting, positive change,” she said.

The group’s demographic is tailored to the 18 to 39 year segment, although so far the group’s dozen members are typically in their mid- to late 20s.

Although the forum is designed to help foster community awareness of the group, organizers promise the event is inclusive to all Penticton residents.

“Everybody’s welcome. We’re hoping with the venue and using our contacts that we’ll attract our target audience,” Schultz said, adding that the event isn’t exclusively for youth. “Anybody can come. We’re not going to turn people away at the door.”

The forum will kick off with introductions offered by the candidates themselves, followed by questions from participants. Those with burning questions for candidates are asked to email them in advance to gennextpenticton@hotmail.ca, as the forum is only 90 minutes and organizers want to cover a broad spectrum of topics.

The forum will be held on Nov. 2 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Opus, at 1475 Fairview Rd. Admission is free, but attendees are asked to bring a non-perishable donation to support the Penticton food bank or a contribution to the United Way’s fall fundraising campaign. For information about GenNext, visit www.gennextpenticton.com.

The Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce will also host two forums to discuss the issues with candidates. A forum for the mayoral candidates will be Nov. 8, with council candidates squaring off Nov. 9. Both forums begin at 7 p.m. at the Penticton Lakeside Resort.