Citizens of Metea host their second local candidate fair

A local candidate fair hosted by CItizens of Metea was hosted in the LMC on Wensday, March 25th from 6:00 to 7:30 PM.

Isabelle Leofanti

A local candidate fair hosted by CItizens of Metea was hosted in the LMC on Wensday, March 25th from 6:00 to 7:30 PM.

Isabelle Leofanti and Chloe Stables

Citizens of Metea just hosted their second local candidate fair in preparation for the election last Wednesday evening. The City Council Candidate Forum hosted running school board candidates, Aurora alderman, and Naperville mayoral candidates. The election for these positions will be held on Tuesday, April 4. 

A large number of students in attendance were seniors who will soon be eligible to vote in this upcoming election. For those students, this forum was important for first-time voters. Rish Amsaraj, the political director for the civic service club, Citizens of Metea, explained the significance of the event for the students. 

“This gives people the opportunity to meet with these important people and understand who they are voting for or what they need to do to get involved in our community,” Amsaraj said.

To kick off the event, all three school board candidates introduced themselves and had to provide an answer to the question about their interest in continuing their effective role on the district’s School Board.

Current District 204 School Board Member Mark Rising emphasized the importance of everyone receiving an equal education opportunity. As expressed, Indian Prairie School District is currently ranked second in Illinois and 36th in the country. While it might look like the school board is doing enough, Rising is driven to continually improve every student and parent’s experience.

“We need to keep getting enough student and parent voices,” said Rising.

Alderman representing Metea and Wabonise along with At-Large Alderman for Aurora was also in attendance. Collectively, they all agree that it is important to take an intensive look at the people running on your ballot, especially during local elections.

Sheweta Baid is the current alderperson of Aurora 10th Ward and she urges students to get involved. One example she provided includes attending city council meetings to see how the city council works.

These particular types of events are crucial to help one’s personal outlook on how to oblige both to the community and people, Baid argues her outlook on her position and how aspiring politicians can use these tactics.

“You have to think about your community, and you have to be passionate that you want to serve the community. It is not about a title or a position. It is about people, you are going to be their voice,” Baid said. “This forum is a great opportunity where you can ask questions and build a relationship with them. In the future, if you need anything, you know how to reach the city council members and your problems will be solved.”

While Baid’s position identifies as alderman of the 10th Ward, Mansa Latham Williams is a Candidate for Alderperson-at-Large. This means that Williams is running for that position whereas Baid is currently situated.

As Williams needs to use these opportunities presented to promote himself as a future alderman, he expressed his thoughts on this event.

“I am impressed by Metea as you are the only school that asked us all to come out. And not so we can only speak about politics with you all but we have career education experiences that we can share with you as well.”

While the majority of students who attended the event were eligible to vote, students of all ages were encouraged to go. For many students, the candidate fair was a great opportunity to learn more about what is happening in the community. 

“I came here mainly for my government class but I also wanted to meet the candidates in my area to see who I could potentially vote for even though I can not vote yet,” senior Pranathi Sagi said. “This event makes me aware of what is going on locally and I also get the chance to hear from different perspectives on changes that will affect our schools and community.”

With the event’s candidate and student attendance being so high, Citizens of Metea continues to fulfill their goal to educate students and promote political and civic engagement.

“As a whole, we just try to get students more involved,” Aarushi, co-chair of Citizens of Metea said. “This is a great opportunity for students to discover what their political beliefs are that way when they can vote, they understand their values and know who to vote for. A lot of unique and interesting candidates came so as long as students keep an open mind, they will learn something from everyone.”

To promote both political and civic engagement, one standout attendee in presence was Naperville Mayoral Candidate Benny White. Since he is running for Mayor of Naperville, his attendance at the forum significantly engaged students to recognize his political aspirations. 

“My big thing for me right now is sustainability. Sustainability is not all about energy and the environment. It is about that but it is not all about that. Your ability to sustain your community talks about having housing options available for people,” White said.

Another large goal of White’s is to continue to engage with the youth community while involving them in the political process. White goes on to explain the importance of this target.

“There are a lot of places in the world that would love to have the freedoms that we have to go out and have a decision on who is going to be governing your community. Do not take that for granted. Get out and make that happen,” White said.

Yet, due to decreasing voting percentages over the last few years, it is more important than ever to educate young people about the benefits of voting.

“Unfortunately, the turnout for these municipal elections is poor. Right, usually, in Naperville, we might get 12 to 18 percent. turnout. Aurora is even worse. You have to get out there and vote. You have to go tell other people.”

According to Pew Research Center, they highlight that it is solely up to individual voters to register themselves. That is why White is continually encouraging all eligible people within the area to vote.

“Information is so available to us nowadays. You can go online, you can go on our city website, and learn as much as you want about what’s going on in the city of Naperville. You can do it at the state and county levels as well. But it takes a commitment to want to go out and do that,” White said.

For additional information about Citizens of Metea and the candidate fairs, reach out to club advisor Susan Fuhrer.