The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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SJU hosts Meet the Candidates Night

Local candidates came to talk to students and faculty about their campaigns
Students and faculty met local candidates in DAC on Oct. 24.

This past Monday night, students and New York residents gathered in DAC 206 for the University’s ninth annual “Meet the Candidates Night,” where local candidates campaigning for election to state and federal offices discussed issues pertaining to the community.

The event was moderated by Brian Browne, professor of political science at St. John’s. Candidates discussed their positions on topics such as education, infrastructure and the economy and took questions from student moderators. Everyone in attendance was encouraged to write in their own questions on provided notecards.

Candidates at the event included State Senator for the 11th Senatorial District, Tony Avella; Republican candidate for the 11th Senatorial District Mark Cipolla; Democratic Senator for the 14th District Leroy Comrie; Republican candidate for the 14th District, Jarrett Freeman; Candidate for the 23rd City Council District, Joe Concannon; Republican Candidate for the 5th District, Michael O’Reilly and Congressman of the fifth Congressional District, Greg Meeks. In addition, St. John’s freshman Usman Ali Chohan is running for the 25th District for NY State Assembly.

Incumbent candidates seeking re-election spoke on their voting records and legislation they have helped to pass, while those new to the scene of politics proposed their views and spoke of their experiences as business owners and private citizens.

Congressman Meeks spoke about the role the U.S. plays in worldwide diplomacy and stated that it has the “best democratic system in the world.”

Candidate Mark Cipolla discussed his background, his experiences as a former prosecutor and how it affects his platform of ethics reform.

He also said raising the quality of life in NYC is one of his main concerns, as is keeping communities crime-free.

Senator Comrie voiced his support for raising the minimum wage and “limiting opportunities for people to get assault weapons.” He said that while the U.S. thrives on immigrants, the path to citizenship should be “a direct path, not an easy path.”

Student moderators posed the bulk of the questions, tackling local issues such as using Queens waterways for public transportation, candidates’ plans for bolstering local businesses and their proposals concerning education.

Other questions centered on national security, raising New York’s minimum wage, immigration, environmental concerns and the cost of higher education.

One of the five student moderators for the event was sophomore Kayla Knight. She said that being able to directly ask the candidates questions opened her eyes to the differences in the approach between Republicans and Democrats. “I have a set view, but both sides definitely brought different issues to light that I knew about, but didn’t really know how to address. It’s really interesting, the give-and-take between both sides,” Knight said.

Cooper Miqueli, a sophomore at St. John’s, also served as a student moderator, and emphasized the importance of political participation on the local level. “Go to local forums, meet your local politicians, and go out and vote,” Miqueli said.

“A lot of what I hear, even from my parents, is that government is just red tape everywhere. Nothing is ever accomplished, it’s already set and everything is fixed. But that’s not the case. It’s younger people getting so turned off from politics and thinking that only older people vote…when in reality, that mindset is hindering them from making change. If younger people don’t get out there and vote, nothing will change,” Knight said.

Congressman Greg Meeks said, “It is not only important but imperative that college students get involved and that they vote. Here in my district there are a lot of different people and many schools. I’m lucky to have both a private and public school: St. John’s and York [College]. [Students] can get involved in many different ways and we go out to see them.”

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About the Contributor
Ariana Ortiz, Features Editor
Ariana Ortiz is a senior majoring in journalism. She began her journey with the Torch last year, starting as a staff writer and then the Assistant News Editor. She aims to make the most of her time as features editor by not only making the Torch a primary news source for students, but also for the immediate community surrounding St. John’s. Have any questions? Email Ariana at [email protected]
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