Last night, delegates and nominees alike tuned in for the yearly who’s who of the Youth and Government conference: the candidate debate. Though they have been running from behind the scenes for weeks, campaigning by word of mouth and social media, the debate offered the candidates an opportunity to share their platforms and plans of action to the entirety of the voting body. Starting at 5:30 pm, Secretary of State Karla Ortiz moderated lively conversation. With thirteen running candidates, and one write-in nominee, the evening offered valuable insight into the virtues of everyone present.
Running for Commissioner of Public Lands, a new position only having been held by senior Avery Taylor, is Julian Perea. This position is tasked with monitoring finances and appropriations attached to bills, and oversees that proper jurisdiction is maintained when dealing with public lands. Paulina Naydenkov, Susu Salahuddin, and Michael Whitford all cast their names into the ring for the roles of the Forum Co-Chairs, relatively new positions that aid Forum members in engaging in debate and writing a bill. They each want to make the branch and the program more open and less intimidating to newcomers. In charge of setting the year’s case law and moderating pro/con debate within the judicial branch, Chief Justice is a coveted position, targeted by Angelica Trujillo and Marley Ramon for the ‘21 conference. Trujillo hopes to give back to the program by serving this role, and write-in nominee Ramon wishes to offer help in brief-writing and expansion in the judicial branch.
The Attorney General is a frequently misunderstood position concerned with ensuring the constitutional strength of a bill. Candidate Branden Lopez hopes to ensure Constitutionality by recommending amendments to bills, and candidate Agustin Leon-Saenz aims to expand understanding of the Constitution by offering guidance and workshops. The Secretary of State is primarily concerned with running elections and aiding communication during conferences. This year, Kate Rocco runs alone, planning to “inform and inspire” the YAG community. Running for Speaker of the House, who presides over the House of Representatives, are candidate Nicholas Orr and Brooklyn Seay. Both candidates are experienced in Youth and Government and hope to make positive change. Gabriella Delgado, a second-year member and Forum Co-Chair, is running to be the ‘21 Lieutenant Governor. Her goals as Lieutenant Governor are to make the conference the “most enjoyable and memorable school experience of the year,” and help it to change other students’ lives as it has changed hers.
The Governor, perhaps the most coveted high-ranking position in YAG, is responsible for building a cabinet to determine whether or not bills passed in the House and the Senate should be signed into law. Members holding this position collaborate closely with other officers and their cabinet, ensuring that conference runs smoothly and bills are presented in the best shape they can be. Olivia Traub, who has served as Lieutenant Governor this year and a Forum Co-Chair last year, is invested in building a diverse cabinet and associating excitement with bill passage, as well as building connections to real-world lawmakers. Bishop Elisoff has participated in the program for three years, and is focused on introducing ranked-choice voting and more in-depth training, as well as encouraging student participation.
Ballots closed at 11:30 this morning, before winners are announced during the closing session at 1:00pm.