Democratic Senatorial hopefuls to Debate at student center

By Gus Bode

Six candidates meet to address issues relevant to Southern Illinois

Higher education and the economy are likely to be the hot topics of a Democratic senatorial debate Tuesday when members of the SIUC College Democrats will question the hopefuls on topics they consider relevant to Southern Illinois.

They will also be questioning six senatorial hopefuls on Social Security, international relations, the environment, the economy, No Child Left Behind and the Patriot Act at 7 p.m. Tuesday in SIUC Student Center Ballrooms C and D.

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TyJuan Cratic, president of the organization, said its goal is to make sure everyone can hear from those they are considering voting for instead of basing their decision on endorsements and hearsay.

“Down here in Southern Illinois, we know the people sometimes feel frustrated that they’re not taken as seriously as the people in Chicago,” Cratic said. “We wanted to make sure we get the candidates down here because this is an important part of the state, and the candidates know that as well.”

Democratic candidates Gery Chico, Blair Hull, Dan Hynes, Barrack Obama, Nancy Skinner and Joyce Washington have agreed to participate in the event. Fellow hopefuls Maria Pappas and Estella Johnson-Hunt will be unable to attend.

Cratic said the environment is an important part of people’s lives in Southern Illinois, but he also anticipates health care and the economy will also play big part in the discussion.

“With students graduating and looking for jobs and the students who are having a hard time paying for college, those will be the [issues] students pay close attention to,” Cratic said.

Nate Brown, vice president of the College Democrats, said he will be listening closely to candidates’ views on certain topics.

“The Patriot Act would be something that nobody wants to go first answering,” Brown said. “Personally, I’d like to see their response to the economy – who has the best ideas to get Southern Illinois back in shape as the rest of the state.”

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Candidates will be allotted two minutes to answer a question, and will not be allowed to respond to each other’s comments. However, a brief question and answer session with the public will conclude the evening.

The College Democrats have spent six months preparing for the debate and establishing credibility to draw the candidates downstate. They are anticipating more than 400 people to attend and are hoping to attract much of the student population.

“This is a very important time for Southern Illinois with the passing of Paul Simon,” Brown said. “They lost their leader, and so this is a great chance for us to find out which candidate can pick up the torch that Paul Simon left for us in making Southern Illinois a better place.”

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