BEACON FALLS — Politicians and students came together last Thursday at Woodland Regional High School to share ideas and debate important issues.
Woodland hosted an information forum for gubernatorial and lieutenant governor candidates that brought nearly all of the candidates for the state’s top two political spots to Beacon Falls.
“One of the biggest things I want is for everyone to have a fresh perspective and to be able to hear directly from the candidates themselves,” said Woodland senior and Student Body President Bayan Galal, who spearheaded the forum. “Another thing is, since we have representatives here today, just for students to get their input on their experiences on politics. I think that is definitely one of the biggest goals.”
Republican lieutenant governor candidate Joe Markley, Americans for Minimal Government gubernatorial candidate Mark Stewart Greenstein, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Rod Hanscomb and his running mate, Jeffrey Thibeault, gubernatorial candidate Oz Griebel and his running mate, Monte Frank, who are running unaffiliated, made the trip to Woodland.
Students got their chance to talk directly with the candidates in small groups before the candidates headed to the school’s auditorium for a debate moderated by Galal and George Colli, WTNH News 8 lead investigative reporter.
The discussions hit on a variety of topics, including why the candidates got into politics, the candidates’ vision for the future of the state, how the candidates would fix the economic crisis in the state, and what the candidates thought about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
“We like to have a voice and our opinions,” Woodland junior and Student Body Vice President Madison Lisowski said. “This is a chance to voice our opinions and to tell them what we want done too.”
Although most high school students won’t be old enough to vote come November, it is still important for them to know what is happening in politics, said Galal, who spent four months setting up the forum.
“Even for people who aren’t 18 yet, just being able to hear from the candidates will get them more interested in politics and ready to explore the candidates, hear what they have to say, and, in general, just be more informed about what’s going on,” Galal said.
As the crowd, which included many students and members of the public, settled into the auditorium before the start of the debate, Galal told the audience that it is debate and the sharing of ideas that helps move a community forward.
“When we think of the perfect team we like to think of a group of people with one vision, always agreeing, and on the same exact page as each other about everything. However, this may not be as ideal as it sounds,” Galal said. “Ideas from people with backgrounds different than ours can teach us to think about issues in new ways and provide us with new inspiration and knowledge. Debate and disagreement are not the end of teamwork, but the beginning of it.”