Senate candidates make case at youth forum

Inspire Colorado holds its first gathering in Denver

Posted 3/13/16

The questions to the state Legislature candidates covered a wide range of topics, but the focus on relevancy to a younger generation was clear:

“How,” Cherry Creek High School junior Sarah Hait wanted to know at the the inaugural Inspire …

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Senate candidates make case at youth forum

Inspire Colorado holds its first gathering in Denver

Posted

The questions to the state Legislature candidates covered a wide range of topics, but the focus on relevancy to a younger generation was clear:

“How,” Cherry Creek High School junior Sarah Hait wanted to know at the the inaugural Inspire Colorado candidate forum, “are you going to engage a new demographic in politics?”

Hait posed the question to the candidates vying for Senate District 26 — state Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village, and Arapahoe County District 1 Commissioner Nancy Doty, a Republican from Littleton. Kagan was in attendance, and Doty, who missed the March 8 forum due to a death in her family, gave her answers to Colorado Community Media by email.

To Hait's question, Kagan encouraged students to visit the Capitol to see the Judiciary Committee he chairs at work or to take a tour.

“I love it when young people take an interest in politics,” he said. “I cherish that.”

Doty said she would embrace social media networks that younger people use.

“Young people today get a lot of their information from social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat,” she said. “Let's use those forms of communication to educate those folks on the issues that face us.”

The forum, held at History Colorado Center in Denver, drew about 50 students, giving them a chance to meet and ask questions of a slate of state legislature candidates.

Senate District 26 covers Littleton, Englewood, Sheridan, Cherry Hills Village, Greenwood Village, west Centennial and parts of Aurora. The candidates are vying for the seat in the November election because state Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, is term-limited.

Also present were candidates for House District 8, covering northeast Denver, and House District 32, covering north central Denver.

The forum was moderated by Luc Hatlestead, editor-at-large of 5280 magazine, and included opening remarks from Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who assured the teenagers that, despite their age, they can affect the political process. He told them about his own experience getting involved in politics as a high school student in Virginia.

About 50 students from around the Denver metro area attended.

Candidates answered a variety of questions about views on college affordability, criminal justice reform, veteran unemployment and homelessness, gun control and job creation.

Kagan repeatedly referenced his position as chair of the House Judiciary Committee and described laws he has helped pass as a state representative.

In response to a question about criminal justice, he said he helped pass a bill leading to more widespread usage of police body cameras and his committee is working on a bill banning chokeholds by police officers.

Kagan also noted his role in expanding background checks to private gun sales and banning magazines that hold more than 15 rounds.

“Our belief was, the only reason you need more than 15 rounds is you want to kill a lot of people in a short amount of time,” he said of his committee. “You don't need it for hunting, you don't need it for self-defense.”

Doty said lawmakers must focus on keeping weapons away from the mentally ill.

“I am inspired by the work of Michael and Desiree Davis on this issue of gun safety and mental health,” she said, referring to the parents of Claire Davis, who was killed in a 2013 shooting at Arapahoe High School.

Closing the event, Kagan lauded the students for taking an interest in politics.

“You care enough to come out here and pay attention,” he said. “That's rare and that's beautiful.”

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