Forum at Linn-Mar High School will ask legislators and candidates about issues most important to youth

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Generational Change Forum

Linn-Mar High School, 3111 10th St., Marion — Friday, Jan. 10 at 6 p.m.

Member of Students Against School Shootings march from College Green Park to the Pedestrian Mall for the March for Gun Safety. Tuesday, March 30, 2018. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Editor’s note: Alex Drahos, one of the forum organizers, posted on Facebook Friday afternoon that the event has been canceled due to the weather.

The last decade was filled with young activists in Iowa and across the country demanding their voices be heard. And it doesn’t look like this will stop in 2020.

Four Linn County high school students are organizing a forum on Friday, Jan. 10 that will focus on issues impacting the younger generations, such as climate change, gun violence, student debt and how youth have impacted campaigns for public office.

Linn-Mar High School junior Alex Drahos, who is one of the forum organizers, said he wanted to get involved with planning the event to educate the community and ensure young people’s voices are heard.

“I just wanted … to help provide this opportunity that’s geared toward youth, as well as touch on the issues that impact youth and ensure we are not being used, but there are actually plans put forward that will impact us and lead us into a new generation and a future that is beneficial for us,” Drahos said.

Drahos said some of the issues most important to him in the 2020 election are climate change, ensuring rural communities have connection to the internet and potentially lowering the voting age.

The Generational Change Forum will have four panels. Speakers will make opening statements, then answer questions from the moderators.

Kicking off the event will be a panel with three elected Iowa leaders: state Reps. Molly Donahue and Liz Bennett, and state Sen. Rob Hogg. Following that will be a discussion with Democrat Eric Gjerde, who is running to represent Iowa House District 67, which includes Robins, Hiawatha and parts of Cedar Rapids and Marion.

The third panel will feature three of the candidates running for the 2020 Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate: Michael Franken, Kimberly Graham and Eddie Mauro.

Concluding the evening will be a panel with representatives from five presidential candidates.

Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker will represent Sen. Bernie Sanders, state Rep. Ras Smith will represent Joe Biden, former Obama aide Reggie Love will represent Pete Buttigieg, state Sen. Liz Mathis will represent Sen. Amy Klobuchar and state Sen. Zach Wahls will represent Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

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“The biggest thing for me that I hope people take away from [the forum] is that they feel like they are just generally more educated on the people who are running in the state and in the nation,” Drahos said.

“But on top of that, I hope they take away some notion of how anybody can be involved civically. Nobody is too young or too old to inspire others, to bring people together, to get a job done.”

The Generational Change forum starts at 6 p.m. and will be held at Linn-Mar High School, 3111 10th St, in Marion. The event is free, but registration is requested.

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