Candidates for the positions of Ashland mayor and Jackson County commissioner spoke at Southern Oregon University on Monday to educate students about local voting issues. In addition to the candidates State Representative Peter Buckley spoke to students and music was performed by The Human Revolution.
The Associated Students of Southern Oregon University created the event to help with the Vote OR Vote campaign, which is working to register students to vote before the Oct. 16 registration deadline. So far the group has registered 900 students this fall.
After the opening music performance, Buckley spoke to students about the importance of not only registering to vote, but simply the action of voting. He pointed out that the state of things in government and the economy is not “an act of God,” but because of elected officials.
“If you want things to be different you have to get leverage in the process,” said Buckley.
Following Buckley were the candidates for mayor of Ashland, Michael Erickson (better known as “Biome”), Alan DeBoer and current mayor John Stromberg.
Running for re-election, Stromberg spoke first, addressing various local issues and particularly urging students to get involved as potential representatives within the local government, saying “person-to-person connections get things done.”
DeBoer, who was Ashland mayor from 2001-2004, also discussed student involvement and said he wanted to help students lobby in Salem.
The final candidate for mayor, Erickson, took a different approach encouraging students to search for truth beyond what they hear and see and to be aware that often “what is passed off as political reality is little more than political theater.”
The two candidates running for Jackson County Commissioner who spoke at SOU were Doug Breidenthal and Jeff Scroggin.
Breidenthal advocated for making regulations on businesses light in order to allow businesses to flourish and create jobs. Scroggin spoke of going to Salem and lobbying for higher education funding, particularly scholarships to combat high levels of student debt at SOU.
After the candidates had spoken students were able to submit questions to be answered by Scroggin and Debour.
ASSOU Director of Governmental Affairs Jason Pennell deemed the event successful, particularly agreeing with the sentiments expressed by Buckley about student participation in politics.
“That’s the big theme of what we’re working on—getting students engaged,” said Pennell.