Debate planned at UC Merced for 21st Assembly race hopefuls

yamaro@mercedsunstar.comOctober 2, 2012 

— Candidates for the 21st Assembly District seat will square off during a debate at the University of California at Merced next week.

Democrat Adam Gray and Republican Jack Mobley will meet at the first political debate for state office held by the Political Science Student Association at the campus.

Students and members of the community will get the opportunity to ask the candidates questions about issues that are important to them, said Fidel Cervantes, a UC Merced student who's involved with the group and is helping organize the event.

"We figured it's important because it will get students involved in politics," he said. "And members of the community, they too have the best interest in knowing who the candidates are because the candidates will represent them as well."

The event will take place at 6:45 p.m. Oct. 11 in the California Room on campus. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m.

Some seats will be reserved for members of the community, but they will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis, Cervantes said.

The community can submit questions in advance to pssa.ucm@gmail.com or during the seating process on the day of the event, he said.

Questions about Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's November tax initiative, which would help fund education, and high speed rail most likely will come up during the event, Cervantes said.

"There are a lot of issues. I want to leave it up to people to say what's more important," he said.

Nathan Monroe, a political science professor at UC Merced, said events on campus such as the debate make politics a little more real and more personal for students.

When students watch political debates on TV, it might be hard for them to connect, he said.

"I think that by being able to be there in person in a local debate with issues that are directly relevant to their everyday lives, brings politics closer to home," he said.

Such events also have the opportunity to get them involved in local politics and keep them paying attention to the political process, he said.

The student organization will be registering people to vote on the day of the debate.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or yamaro@mercedsunstar.com.

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