Mayor candidates debate at Carson High |

Mayor candidates debate at Carson High

Chris Carver speaks to students at Carson High Wednesday.
Taylor Pettaway/Nevada Appeal |

Carson High School students had the chance to get up close and personal with the political process Wednesday, hosting a debate for the Carson City mayoral candidates.

The government classes at the high school hosted candidates, Chris Carver and incumbent Robert Crowell, so students could ask questions and gain insight into their platforms.

“As a department we want to stress the hands-on civic participation to give kids the opportunity to hear the people in person,” said government teacher Angila Golik.

Golik said while only about 25 percent of the students are old enough to vote, it’s still important for students to be informed.

“One of these two men, whoever is elected, will be making decisions on things that will impact these kids so it is good for them to know what they stand for,” Golik said.

The students chose seven questions for the two candidates, allowing each man two minutes to express their stance as well as a rebuttal. Many of the questions dealt with problems teenagers face and what the candidates can do for them, as well as the development of Tesla Motors and the downtown projects.

One of the biggest issues that concerned students dealt with Question 2 — the legalization of marijuana. Both candidates expressed opposition to the initiative, earning them an audible groan from the students.

“The issue of recreational marijuana was most important… because as an 18-year-old it affects me directly because of people in the community doing it,” said senior Ashley Tibbets.

Another issue that concerned Tibbets and other students was the CC1 ballot issue on raising the gas tax $0.03.

“I am really glad they talked about the taxes, because they are a major concern for me,” said senior Elise McLaren.

McLaren said having the candidates come to the school was a great opportunity for students.

“It really was a privilege to have the candidates here, to be able to hear from them instead of just commercials (like the national level candidates),” McLaren said.

Both students agreed having the candidates at the forum helped give them a new outlook for when they vote.

“I had an idea coming into this who I was going to vote for, but the debate changed my opinion,” Tibbets said.

“It does give me a good perspective of how I will choose to vote when I turn 18,” McLaren added.

For other students, like 18-year-old Austin Tucker, though he had already voted, it was important for the students to see the real world application of what they’re learning in class.

“A lot of teens don’t do the research on their own and its important to have them come out and talk about these things to make that real world connection to what we learn in high school,” Tucker said. “Lots of students don’t think they will have a voice in the political process and they don’t realize that we do have a voice and can make a difference.

“Everything we learn in high school comes into effect and unfolds as it happens. It is class work coming to life.”

Tucker said other candidates, such as U.S. Senate candidates, should engage students in similar ways because it helps students stay informed, even with their busy lives.

“It was valuable to have (the mayoral candidates) here because kids who are busy with work or school or things like that, that could keep them away from attending things like this,” Tucker said.

“I already voted, but it is still fun to watch the process and I would advise candidates in the future to do this because teens who aren’t as active in the political process need to be involved in it.”

The candidates spent about an hour and a half with the 120 seniors at Carson High, even answering questions and talking with students after.

“Some of you were tortured and forced to be here, some are here willingly but let me tell you, in this election it is about you taking control of your life, about taking control of opportunities,” Carver told the students. “It is time for you to step up and make a choice.”

But both candidates were grateful to talk with the students and encourage them to get involved in the election process in the next two weeks.

“I thought it was a great demonstration of democracy in action,” Crowell said. “Education in itself is important and our democratic principles are more important. I am so impressed that the school asked us out, because it is one of our civic duties.”