In author Thomas Ehrlich’s Civic Responsibility and Higher Education, a civically responsible individual is described as one who “recognizes himself or herself as a member of a larger social fabric and therefore considers social problems to be at least partly his or her own; such an individual is willing to see the moral and civic dimensions of issues, to make and justify informed moral and civic judgments, and to take action when appropriate.”
On the early Saturday morning of September 27, 2014, the spirit of civic engagement was apparent throughout the University Ballroom at California State University, Sacramento. Hundreds of attendees joined together for APAPA’s 13th Annual Voters Education and Candidates Forum. Citizens came to become educated about candidates and issues, while candidates shared their views and debated amongst each other. Hosted by former news anchor Pamela Wu, the MC set the tone for the non-partisan event with a warm welcome to all of the attendees.
Pamela brought forth the speaker Michelle Rhee to provide an opening speech for the Voters Education & Candidates Forum. Michelle provided a humorous anecdote of Mayor Kevin Johnson’s experience with her Korean family, and assured the audience that the Mayor is “Asian-adjacent.” “Regardless of which side you choose, the most important thing is to get educated and to get out and vote” Michelle said.
After Michelle Rhee’s closing remarks, the 2014 Public Service Award was presented to County Supervisor Jimmie Yee by State Controller John Chiang and Board of Equalization member Betty Yee. Betty praised Jimmie Yee for being an effective leader who has ensured that the integrity of our local government is upheld. “I think the successes that we stand here celebrating within this great city of Sacramento are really, in no small part, due to the leadership of the honorable Jimmie Yee” she expressed. John Chiang also commended Jimmie Yee’s integrity and professional qualifications that have made a fundamental difference in the community. “We've only been stronger, better, and more hopeful about our future because of Jimmie's servitude” the State Controller said.
Expressing gratitude for receiving the award, the County Supervisor talked about the importance of educating citizens on what is happening in the political world. Looking back at his 20 years of service, Jimmie reflected that he was “certainly pleased to have been given the opportunity to serve our local community.” Before leaving the stage, he voiced his appreciation for APAPA’s work to develop young individuals who are interested in becoming involved.
Later on, Secretary of State Debra Bowen briefly spoke to the audience about voter registration. She announced that the voter registration forms are offered in 10 languages, encouraging the audience to reach out to friends or family, who were previously restricted by language barriers, to vote. “We govern ourselves. We choose. We decide. And for people who think it doesn’t make a different, it does” the Secretary of State urged. As an example, Debra brought up the bill that banned smoking in restaurants, which had passed by only one vote in the State Assembly.
The candidates’ portion of the event was kicked off by Betty Yee, who is running for the California State Controller position. She talked about the importance of sustaining engagement with the government and elected officials after the elections, to ensure that the voice of the community continues to be heard. “Our democracy is only as strong as the ability of each and every one of us to fully participate in it” she stressed. Some of the candidates who also went on stage included Greg Conlon for State Treasurer, Senator Jim Nielsen for California Senate District 4, Senator Ted Gaines for Insurance Commissioner, Tax Attorney Chris Parker for Board of Equalization, and Paulina Miranda for State Senate District 8.
Several panels were held to educate attendees about the upcoming candidates and their ideas on handling various issues. The first panel was a debate between Congressional District 7 candidates Ami Bera (Democrat) and Doug Ose (Republican). The next panel consisted of State Senate District 6 Candidates Roger Dickinson (Democrat) and Richard Pan (Democrat). Lastly, the State Assembly panel included District 7 candidates Steve Cohn (Democrat) and Kevin McCarty (Democrat), District 8 Candidates Ken Cooley (Democrat) and Doug Haaland (Republican), and District 9 candidates Jim Cooper (Democrat) and Darrell Fong (Democrat).
Lastly, there was a debate on Measure L, also known as the “Sacramento Checks and Balances Act of 2014.” Proponents of the measure included Former Chief Administrative Officer of the State Assembly Maeley Tom and District 6 City Councilmember Jay Schenirer. Opponents included Former Mayor of Sacramento Heather Fargo and Co-President of the League of Women Voters Sacramento Paula Lee.
Thanks to our sponsors and partnering community organizations, APAPA can continue to provide education on public policies and issues that are important to the community. Together, we can promote higher civic engagement in public affairs.
To learn more about this event, visit http://apapa.org/news/forum.aspx. Photos can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.821803884537753.1073741851.155418264509655&type=3