Trio of New West candidates plant seeds of interest among next generation of voters

Theresa McManus

I recently chatted with NDP candidate Peter Julian and Green candidate Kyle Routledge about the value in attending all-candidates meetings at New Westminster Secondary School – where the majority of the students are too young to vote.
“It’s to get them engaged and get them caring about things,” Routledge said.
Julian, who has volunteered on election campaigns since he was a teenager, told me youths can become politically involved even when they’re too young to vote.
They’re telling you the truth.
Yesterday, Julian, Routledge and Liberal candidate Sasha Ramnarine attended an all-candidates meeting at Lord Kelvin Elementary School. From what I’m told, it’s likely the biggest turnout at an all-candidates meeting in New Westminster during the lead-up to the Oct. 19 federal election.
My two sons were among the Grade 4 to 7 students in attendance at yesterday’s (nearly) all-candidates meeting. To say they were interested in what the candidates had to say would be an understatement as they’ve talked and asked questions about the candidates and their platforms ever since coming home from school yesterday.
With any luck, yesterday’s meeting will prevent kids attending yesterday’s gathering from becoming fossilized non-voters. Say what?
“Statistics have shown that when people miss their first election and they don’t vote, that they are mostly unlikely to vote for the rest of their life. They become fossilized non-voters,” Julian told me during our recent interview.
When I head out to the polls on Election Day – whether it’s federally, provincially or municipally – I try to take my kids along to encourage them to vote once they reach voting age.  To Julian, Routledge and Ramnarine, I offer my thanks: You took the time out of busy schedules to talk to a bunch of kids who can’t vote for you in 2015 - and helped plant the seeds of interest among the next generation of voters.

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