University of the Pacific hosted a mock debate featuring local forensics students Monday, April 26 at the Janet Leigh Theatre just before the U.S. Senate Debate.
San Joaquin Delta College’s Erika Jauregui represented Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. Her adversaries were selected from University of the Pacific and Modesto Junior College speech and debate teams.
“I am honored, as well as proud to be able to represent Delta. I think that delta doesn’t nearly get as much positive exposure that it should. That when you hear about San Joaquin Delta College it’s about what crime happened there. And I think that this really brings focus to delta and how people are involved within politics,” said Jauregui.
Before the debate kicked off, the students participating were given the opportunity to speak with candidate Republican George “Duf” Sundheim. He arrived unexpectedly to express his appreciation to the students for their dedication to their education.
Dallas Phillips of Pacific represented front-runner Attorney Gen. Kamala Harris.
Kayla Gerdes, a Pacific sophomore, represented Republican George “Duf” Sundheim and Megan Chatelain of MJC represented Republican Tom Del Beccaro.
Jeff Toney, a Delta’s forensics team coach, moderated the event asking questions about college debt, common core, taxes, foreign policy, the drought, high-speed rail plans and the California prison system at the candidates.
“I think it gives students an opportunity to see younger people being involved in politics and just being able to voice their own opinions and hear the different sides of the issues and understand them a little more deeply,” said Gerdes.
Phillips and Bruce stood out with confident demeanors and well-thought out answers.
All candidates proved to be well-practiced speakers and debaters.
“Just allowing students to have this type of dialogue and be able to represent … candidates allows them to really touch with the younger generation and … it allows us to advance our own generation’s opinions on politics,” said Gerdes.
The students took on their roles with stride, showing no bias. They spoke with the confidence and poise of candidates running for senate.
“Hardest part about emulating another person is the fact that we have to sometimes look at positions that we’re not necessarily in favor of,” said Jauregui.
Audience saw the most fire from Gerdes and Bruce, especially when speaking on the topic of taxes.
The public has been constantly bombarded with candidates, policies, campaign ads and mudslinging debates during this election year.
Phillips held the lead throughout the debate with concise and well-rounded answers to rebuttals.
Behind her was Gerdes who never gave up an opportunity to insert her candidate’s stance on the issues.
Following her is Bruce who won audience members over with strong tenor and quick-witted rebuttals.
Monday’s student debate wasn’t only an educational opportunity for all involved, it was a window into the future of America’s politics and policy makers.
“We are the future and we need to go out to the polls and vote and really be able to affect change within California,” said Jauregui.
Editor’s note: Reporting done by Zachariah Merces-Spindler & Megan Maxey.