Buchtel Hosts the Candidates

Mayoral Hopefuls Exchange Ideas
Posted on 04/28/2023
Image of Mayoral Candidate Interviews(courtesy Bob Jones WEWS TV)

The seven Democratic candidates for Akron mayor have been participating in debates and forums throughout the city. Still, Thursday marked the first time one of those conversations took place in front of an audience of high school students.

The forum inside the auditorium of Buchtel High School included thought-provoking questions allowing each candidate 90 seconds to answer.

Last October, Mayor Dan Horrigan announced he would not seek a third term. In a statement, he wrote, "My reasons are my own, and they are without regret."

Those seeking the city's top job are Mark Greer, Shammas Malik, Keith Mills, Tara Mosley, Marco Sommerville, Jeff Wilhite and Joshua Schaffer.

Whoever gets the most votes during the Democratic primary on May 2 will likely become the mayor because they will not face any Republican opposition on the November ballot.

Eli Austin, a 17-year-old junior, was fascinated by the discussion because he aspires to become Akron's mayor one day.

"I feel like it's a great platform to make a difference in our city ... and I could be the one for the job."

The teens asked the candidates about their plans to reduce violence and get illegal guns off the streets. Another question focused on how they planned to build trust between police and the community following a grand jury's decision not to indict eight officers involved in the deadly shooting of Jayland Walker.

While many of the seniors are 18 years old and able to vote, most students cannot cast a ballot, but the candidates agreed that talking to the kids and answering their questions is critical for Akron's future.

"This is what matters, and everything that we do now is for them later," Mosley said.

Malik found the forum to be a refreshing change from negative stories about young people and violence in schools.

"We talk about our youth so often; it's really great to be there in person with them and hearing their questions directly and also seeing what they respond to," Malik said.

Schaffer said the conversation could have reached about 80 high school voters, but the idea behind the forum was geared more toward the future.

"I think it's very important to get our younger generation out to vote, and so I think this is more motivational," Schaffer said.

Cienna Harvey, a 17-year-old junior, said the event left a lasting impression.

"I just think it was really cool that all the candidates could be here today because at least they showed up and actually care about the youth and what they have to say," she said.

Sommerville believes learning about the election process and varying opinions on issues is also valuable to teens.

"They see the signs and maybe see some of the TV ads or radio ads, and we want them to understand that this is real," Sommerville said.

After the event, the students cast their votes in a mock election, and Mosley was the winner with 52 percent of the vote. Watch the video on news5cleveland.com.
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