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Ore. Youth Will Ask Questions in First-of-its-Kind Gubernatorial Debate

Gov. Kate Brown will face off against challengers Knute Buehler and Patrick Starnes in a debate where young people will question candidates. (Gov. Kate Brown/Flickr)
Gov. Kate Brown will face off against challengers Knute Buehler and Patrick Starnes in a debate where young people will question candidates. (Gov. Kate Brown/Flickr)
August 27, 2018

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon youth will take the reins in the state's first gubernatorial debate this October.

It will be the first time children and young people guide a forum for candidates.

The debate will be hosted by Children First for Oregon, Portland television station KOIN 6 and Pamplin Media Group, and broadcast live.

Along with Gov. Kate Brown and her Republican challenger Knute Buehler, Independent Party of Oregon candidate Patrick Starnes also has been invited.

Tonia Hunt, executive director of Children First for Oregon, hopes questions from Oregon's children will make for a civil debate.

"So that the young people can really see that high caliber, civic conversations that we all need to be having in our state, in our country,” she states. “We think the young people are really going to bring that out for our candidates and for all of us as we join them in this event."

Hunt says young people are becoming more politically attuned and articulate, and the debate is meant to honor that.

She says children are affected by state-level decisions about issues such as education, economic security for families and access to health care.

The Debate for Oregon's Future is set for Oct. 2.

Hunt says planning for the debate began a year ago, predating the tragic shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school. In the aftermath of that shooting, students from the school have taken a stand against gun violence and even confronted U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida on the issue at a CNN town hall meeting.

Hunt says the students from Parkland are just one example of young people entering the political realm.

"There are many other examples of young people really stepping up, stepping forward and giving voice to their worries, their hopes, their concerns, their aspirations, and we need to listen to those voices,” she points out. “Nobody knows better what's it like to be a kid in Oregon right now than our children and we need to hear from them."

Children First for Oregon is accepting questions from young people and also has application for those who would like to participate in the debate on its website at cffo.org.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR