20 Mar Students Questioned Council Candidates at ‘Ask 2 Know’
Thanks to Michelle Mayans for organizing a wildly successful event March 14 at her ‘Ask 2 Know’ Forum, where Culver City students got the chance to directly address all six City Council candidates. Only students were allowed to ask questions at the event, which took place at The Actors’ Gang at the Ivy Substation. They wrote some questions beforehand in their classes and put others directly to the candidates live at the forum. Questions covered a range of concerns among the students, including education, healthcare, the economy and the environment.
Culver City High School teacher Genevieve Rolfe gave credit to the High School Seniors in her Government class for participating in the event. “Young people today are interested, they’re listening. They are engaged,” said Rolfe. They know that the world they are about to inherit must change, and they must be that change.”
The students voted in a straw poll and chose Meghan Sahli-Wells for City Council, along with Clarke, O’Leary, and Weisman. The students later urged all potential voters and citizens to “…attend a forum, do some research, go to their websites and find out for themselves. Then be sure to vote.”
“The turnout was huge, the students asked such interesting and thoughtful questions, the moderators were excellent, the cause was a good one and it gave the candidates a unique and valuable opportunity to share their positions and something about themselves as individuals,” said Co-Campaign Manager Disa Lindgren.
“Ask2Know was a great way to engage kids and youth in the local political process,” continued Lindgren. “The whole community benefits from it for this reason, even though the focus was on students.”
Meghan’s campaign also benefitted from the opportunity Disa and fellow Co-Campaign Manager Michelle Weiner had to talk with students before the forum, some of whom signed up to volunteer with the campaign, for which they are given community service/government class participation credit.
Campaign staff were blown away by the maturity, intelligence, and temperament of the students, and were very impressed with the terrific professionalism of the event.
There was free pizza at the forum and a very exciting “sodapalooza” tasting with 30 sodas from around the world. A silent auction will also take place to raise money for Claire’s Place Foundation, a nonprofit started by Claire Wineland, a 13 year-old former Culver City resident with cystic fibrosis.
“Getting students involved in politics through events like ‘Ask 2 Know’ is a terrific way to educate and engage them so they can be informed voters and citizens,” said Meghan. “These activities also help develop their confidence to take control of their lives and improve their community through the political process.”
The first ‘Ask 2 Know’ was a packed-house event at The Actors’ Gang on October 26, 2011, where students got the chance to question Culver City School Board candidates. ‘Ask 2 Know’ is the brainchild of event producer Michelle Mayans, who came up with the idea after attending School Board candidate forums that she felt were neglecting the very people most affected by the School Board election – the students.
“If you build a field they will come. I believe kids really do care about issues,” Mayans told Culver City Crossroads. “They just need to be allowed to care and be heard.”
Mayans’ goal is to involve students by making politics more fun and interesting for them – and everyone else – while still being respectful to the candidates and the electoral process. She often invites celebrities to moderate the events, and adds entertainment to attract students. The School Board forum in October was hosted by Nickelodeon star Devon Werkheiser (Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide) and included a Willy Wonka on stilts, The Real Princesses, and The Angel City Derby Girls.
‘Ask 2 Know’ is affiliated with Michelle Mayan’s Kid Scoop Media company, which produces events that bring student news reporters and others together with celebrities, athletes, politicians, authors, musicians, and other successful leaders to give children exposure to enriching life experiences, positive role models, and the chance to express themselves and shape their future. The company has held gatherings in conjunction with President Obama’s visit to Sony Studios, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s tour of Culver City, the Human Rights Campaign Gala, the Leeza Gibbons Charity Oscar Party, and an exclusive session with former President of Mexico Vicente Fox, among others.