Tulsa's mayoral election sparking interest of local high school students

Tuesday, January 29th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa's city primary is next Tuesday - and some of the people watching it most closely - can't even vote.

They're young people taking part in a "Student Voices" program. Their story is part of our campaign 2002 coverage. News on Six reporter Emory Bryan says so often we hear stories of how uninterested young people are about the things that matter. But several classes at every Tulsa Public high school are taking an interest in the mayor's race.

The information they gather may even help the rest of us choose a new mayor. When a politician blows into this high school civics class, they'll face the skepticism and hard questions of veteran political observers. This class - and about a dozen others in Tulsa High schools - and at Victory Christian - are watching and listening to mayoral candidates like Ray McCollum. Ray McCollum, Mayoral Candidate: "I'm a Republican, the Republicans have several candidates, the Democrats have several candidates."

The students are part of a project called "Student Voices." A grant paid for the teaching materials and computers for their classrooms. The goal is to spur interest in civics by getting students and candidates together. Brooke Selvidge, Rogers HS Student: "It definitely helps get people our age involved in it, and we're learning what's going on in the community, it's getting us ready to vote one day." Coleah Platt, Rogers HS Student: "I would have never voted before but I've been paying attention more to the news and who is running."

The students don't throw softballs at the candidates - they wanted to know how McCollum would clean up the water - and balance the budget - and if he thought the jail should be privatized. Ray McCollum, "We need to turn that operation back over to the sheriff because he knows a lot more about running the jail." The students gather the information gleaned from these forums and put it on their website - a comprehensive collection of information and a way for other students to learn about the race. Kenneth Baucum, Rogers HS Student: "It's lots of fun being able to put it together and other people can learn from the website." The students won't stop with the primary - they have mock debates coming - more candidates scheduled - and then a mock election - an educated choice from interested voters.

To see information on the mayor’s race, the city council’s races, and the city auditor’s race, you can visit a special informational page submitted by the candidates themselves. Tulsa City Election