Deborah Gonzalez speaks at a meeting of the Young Democrats Club on Dec. 13. Gonzalez believes young people engaging in politics is a positive thing. “It gives me a lot of hope for our future, seeing everybody so involved, the questions that were asked, the interests that the students had, and I think we have to start early,” Gonzalez said. Photo by Valeria Garcia-Pozo.
District 117 State Representative Deborah Gonzalez met with Clarke Central High School’s Young Democrats Club.
On Dec. 13, State Representative of District 117 Deborah Gonzalez met with Clarke Central High School’s Young Democrats Club at their weekly after-school meeting to discuss the legislative process with students and discuss burgeoning political issues.
“I’m just so thrilled to have been here and shared this time,” Gonzalez said. “It gives me a lot of hope for our future, seeing everybody so involved, the questions that were asked, the interests that the students had, and I think we have to start early, I wish now that I had started much younger.”
According to Gonzalez, she was invited to speak by the Young Democrats’ vice president, whom she met at the Georgia Women and Girls’ Conference at the University of Georgia.
“I met (Young Democrats Vice-President Grace Gilbertson Hall), and her mother, and they were telling me how she had volunteered for me and done some call banking for me, and then we got to talk a little bit,” Gonzalez said. “She came to our thank-you party for our volunteers, and then she asked if I would come and speak and I said I would love to.”
According to sophomore Patrick Fell, the discussion of important issues was a highlight of the meeting,
“(The most interesting things were) the way she was discussing about the campaign and running a campaign, (and) what she envisioned for the Democratic party as well as some of her statements, again, about net neutrality and the Confederate monuments,” Fell said.
Gonzalez agrees that it is beneficial for representatives to be available to young people in person.
“I think it’s great that this club is bringing in officials or bringing in candidates — people who can talk about the campaign process, the legislative process, so that the students learn and students have an opportunity to ask the direct questions,” Gonzalez said.
Despite his belief that the meeting was an informative and interesting one, Fell believes the meeting would have benefitted from a higher attendance rate.
“I just wish more people had attended, ’cause I thought it was a productive meeting and I noticed some people, they were on their phones, and some of them just got up and walked out,” Fell said.
Fell also believes a wider amount of representation would have voiced a wider range of concerns.
“If you could actually have people who are more representative of the community, topics that I thought could have been also brought up were the poverty rate in Athens, which is a big problem here,” Fell said. “Most of the people there were like, just white kids.”
Gonzalez believes it is important for young people to be active in the political process.
“Too many times, you might say, ‘Well, I’m too young. I can’t vote,’” Gonzalez said. “But there’s so many ways to get engaged with democracy that it’s not about voting. You could be campaigning or helping a candidate or you could be out there talking to people about a very particular issue that’s important for them, you could be registering people, or educating them about how important the vote is and what your right is to that vote.”