Local Candidates Appeal to Young Voters

Image from Beachcomber archives

Image from Beachcomber archives

Lawn signs, sometimes in sets of twos and threes, have sprouted on the lawns of many Beachwood residents.

The Oct. 9 League of Women Voters’ Candidate Night was packed. Tickets sold out quickly to the Cleveland Jewish News Mayoral Debate on Oct. 15.

With the mayoral and city council elections approaching Nov. 5, Beachwood has become a hotbed of political activity. But in a community where 15-24 year olds only make up 8.4% of the population, what is the role of youth in Beachwood politics?

All candidates claim to care about the opinions of youth, either through seeking their perspectives or by advocating youth-centered initiatives. Mayoral candidate Brian Linick and City Council candidate James Pasch are advocating specific policies.

“I would like to see Friday night lights,” said Linick. “And when I’m Mayor, I’m going to work as hard as I can with the schools and make that a reality.”

Linick also sees his proposal for a free WiFi networking as benefitting Beachwood’s youth. “I want to make it so young people have places to gather so they are able to take advantage of technology,” he said.

Pasch plans to create a youth advisory committee to City Council. “[The goal is to] figure out what things you want to see for the future of the community,” he said. “What is it going to take to get you to move home after you’re done with your college or graduate education?”

According to his campaign literature, Pasch also plans on working with the School Board to launch an anti-bullying awareness campaign.

Other candidates have already incorporated youth into their campaigns.

“I did seek out and get the endorsement of the young Democrats club. I was one of only two candidates who’s done that,” said Council candidate Michael Silver.

“I’m getting out and talking to [youth],” said Councilman Melvin Jacobs. “I have a few gentlemen who are helping me campaign… We’re talking about different issues … because you have to start in the city that you live in and be involved there.”

“One of the first things I did when I started running was reach out to Scott [Arkin], who is President of the BHS young Democrats,” Pasch said. “There have been high school students involved my campaign from day one.”

“One of the things we’ve worked hard to do is inform young people that there’s an election coming up, that they just have to be eighteen on election day [in order] to vote. It’s critical that everyone exercise that right to vote,” Linick said.

Finally, some hope to incorporate youth into their administration if elected.

“Beachwood needs to have a change in its generation of leadership. It needs to have younger leaders. It needs to be thinking about the future,” said Council candidate David Eden. “So what I want to do is bring more young people in to talk about what they need in the city.”

“I am also going to have an active role for people in the high school, college students who live here, to play in my administration,” said Linick. “I’m going to have people from all demographics play a role in government.”

“One of the most important areas for me is maintaining and advancing our relationship with the Beachwood Schools.  A solid working relationship between the City, Schools and the business community is key for a strong future.  Beachwood is  a close-knit, accessible community for all ages,” Mayor Merle Gorden wrote in an e-mail.

But how receptive are eighteen-year-old BHS students who can vote in the election to this campaigning?

Of the four students interviewed for the article, all four planned on voting. “It’s nice to have a say in who runs your city,” said Senior Max Millstein. “It affects me directly. And I’m 18, so I can finally vote.”

“Now that I’m 18, I think it’s really important to take a part in current events around our city,” said senior Abby Ordillas.

However, none of those interviewed knew all nine candidates. To be fair, they were interviewed four weeks before the election. This isn’t to say they were completely uninformed about the election.

“Some of James Pasch’s ideas are pretty appealing to the younger generation,” said senior David Corty, who feels that Pasch is open minded about LGBT acceptance.

“I know it’s going to be hard to get [Gorden] out of office because a lot of Beachwood is made up an older population…” Millstein said. “…and he really caters to the older population. And there are younger candidates that the older population of Beachwood which predominate might not like, so they’re satisfied with Mayor Gorden.”

“Well I did read that Gorden did have a strong base with the senior majority, so I would think he did well with the seniors, so I would think Linick did better with the younger ones,” said senior Boyan Patev.