Campus political groups reach across the aisle

AnnMarie Kent

Local and state candidates for office gathered in the Ontario room of the UC on Feb. 16, bringing students from both sides of the aisle together for Poli-Palooza, an informational night of politics.

The event was hosted by the College Republicans, College Democrats and the political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha. The goal of the event was to get young voters engaged in the political process, educating them on how to register and how to apply for an absentee ballot, Jacob Ogea, president of the NMU College Republicans said.

“It’s a chance for [students] to get registered to vote, get to learn more about the political process, meet some candidates and eat some pizza,” Ogea said. “What could be more American than that?”

Two candidates for Marquette County Sheriff were in attendance and spoke to the crowd of mostly students about the issues facing Marquette. The main issues discussed were the dark store issue and the meth problem. Greg Zyburt, current Chocolay Township police chief and candidate for sheriff, said he was at Poli-Palooza to raise awareness for his campaign and educate young
voters.

“Unfortunately not enough young people are getting involved,” Zyburt said. “If you sit back you can’t complain. If you’re out there you have a right to complain.”

Candidates for the first congressional district, Democrats Lon Johnson and Jerry Cannon, as well as Republican Jason Allen spoke at the event.

“We had three different people [here] that are running for congress in Michigan’s first district,” Ogea said, “which is supposed to be one of the most competitive districts you’re going to see.”

Senior art and design major Justin Minor attended the event in support of the Libertarian Party. Minor isn’t associated with the official Libertarian group on campus, but he said it’s important that students are given information from multiple third parties.

“I think it’s important to represent all third parties besides this two-party political system that the United States has,” Minor said. “There’s a lot of independent voters, and there’s not really a third option.”

The College Democrats are using Bernie Sanders” success at capturing young voters’ attention to bring awareness to their group and local politics, Connor Raak, vice president of NMU College Democrats, said.

“We wanted to make sure that millennials also know about other types of elections including local elections: sheriff, county commissioner and state representative,” Raak said.