High Schoolers Square Off In Mock Gubernatorial Debate In Wausau

Kids Voting USA Event Aims To Engage Young People In Electoral Process

Central Wisconsin high school students participate in a mock Democratic Party convention for Kids Voting USA in Wausau.

Two mock political conventions were held in Wausau on Tuesday as part of the Kids Voting USA program, with the aim of getting young people interested in the electoral process.

The Democratic Party delegates – all high school students – assembled at University of Wisconsin-Marathon County’s Center for Civic Engagement Theater to watch a mock gubernatorial debate. Matthew Hansen, a student at Wausau West High School, hoped to be chosen by his peers as their candidate for governor.

“I’m a Democrat because I feel that the progressive ideas of society are better than a conservative perspective, that society should work towards a progressive goal in the future and not just remain in the past,“ said Hansen.

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Across the street, in the university’s other theater, Zachary Stanke, also from Wausau West, prepares for the Republican gubernatorial debate.

“I’m a Republican because I believe in keeping the government under control,” said Stanke. “I believe that whenever the government intervenes in the people’s lives, it just makes it more hard and more inefficient. So therefore I look to maintain a minimal government intervention in the lives of the people.”

The mock conventions brought together about 200 students from high schools across Marathon County. Mike Beck, general manager of the Wausau Daily Herald, sits on the local Kids Voting USA board of directors.

“We need an engaged, informed electorate, and if we can talk to kids early about this – why it’s important, what they need to know, what the process is – I think the odds that they’re going to remain engaged … are going to be better.“

Kids Voting USA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works with more than 4.5 million students across the country.