Local democratic candidates debate at NCF

With the Nov. 6 election fast approaching, candidates are doing some last minute campaigning, trying to sway the votes in these contentious midterms. Three local candidates joined the debate-turned-panel hosted by the NCF Democrats at the Keating Center on Oct. 23. The NCF Democrats invited candidates from both parties in three races, and the Democratic candidates in each race attended: Wesley Beggs, a New College alumna running for District 2 of the Sarasota County Commission, Ruta Jouniari, for District 4 of the Sarasota County Commission, and Olivia Babis, for District 23 of the Florida Senate. The candidates all tried to tap into the youth vote by answering questions proposed by New College students in an intimate hour-long panel.  

Thesis student and NCF Democrats co-president Eva Ernst said that she was “excited to bring candidates directly to the students,” and that she hoped to emphasize student issues in the panel. Questions proposed through a form sent out to the student body and from the audience concerned red tide, improving the LGBTQIA+ friendliness of Sarasota, making Sarasota a more youth-friendly city and dealing with houselessness.

“Florida ranks 46th in the nation for accessibility,” Babis said, who, as a member of the disabled community, wants to use her power in politics to advocate for disability rights and intersectional issues that are associated with accessibility.

“We need a big number [of young voters] to come out and be active, so hopefully we’ll make real change tonight,” Jouniari urged the audience.

Beggs emphasized that young voters have the power to have a say in many of these issues, locally and nationally.

“It is now more than ever essential [for millennials to vote],” Beggs said. “We are going to be the ones who are living through the consequences of these decisions, and it’s important that we have a seat at the table.”

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