Archive for Saturday, November 2, 2002

Youngsters prepare political selections

November 2, 2002


Ninth-grader Callee Souders says neither major-party candidate for Kansas governor deserves to be elected.

"I wouldn't vote for either," said Callee, a student at West Junior High School, 2700 Harvard Road. "They're acting like crybabies. They're saying bad things about each other and it doesn't make Kansas look respectable."

Television ads by Democrat Kathleen Sebelius and Republican Tim Shallenburger are the big turnoff, she said.

Instead, Callee said, if she were old enough to vote, she would support a write-in candidate. Her choice: Leo Souders, her dad and a Lawrence Police officer.

Other future voters in the Lawrence school district have strong views on the governor's race as well.

Many elementary, junior high and high school students interviewed at random this week about the campaign for governor based their opinions on a single issue  public education.

"I'd vote for Sebelius," said Jack Caywood, a sixth-grader at Sunset Hill School, 901 Schwarz Road. "She's going to give the schools more money."

Brooke Fox, 8, said she also would support Sebelius. Brooke is convinced Shallenburger's pledge to not raise taxes would make improving funding of public education more difficult.

"I don't think there's a way Tim Shallenburger's idea  can work," said Brooke, a third-grader at Deerfield School, 101 Lawrence Ave. "I know with Kathleen Sebelius, it would most likely work."

Brooke has her own ambitions: "I'm thinking about running for president," she said.

Dominique Duncan, a senior at Free State High School, 4700 Overland Drive, isn't overwhelmed with Shallenburger or Sebelius. But she listened to Shallenburger speak, and didn't like what she heard.

"I'd probably vote for Sebelius," Dominique said. "Basically, I don't agree with the views of the other people running."

But not all the youngsters thought Sebelius the best choice.

Geoffrey LaForce, a sixth-grader at Sunset Hill, said Shallenburger would be a better fit for Kansas.

"I like his idea about making Kansas a tourist attraction," Geoffrey said.

Some students' opinions were formed during classroom discussions tied to Kids Voting USA, a program that helps warm students to the idea of becoming lifelong voters.

Children of all ages can go to the polls Tuesday with a parent or guardian to "vote" on the same issues and candidates as adults.

The school district, Roger Hill Volunteer Center and the Journal-World are primary sponsors of Kids Voting in Douglas County.

But all the school instruction, television ad campaigns and political stump speeches don't make much difference to some students.

Party loyalty  even for children  is a key to deciding which candidate to vote for Tuesday.

"I'm a Democrat," said Akina Kashiwaya, a sixth-grader at Pinckney School, 810 W. Sixth St. "I think most of my family is."

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