NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) Each candidate was given three minutes for a stump speech.
The real campaigning came before and after.
Networking, that's what the non-profit Build East Texas (www.buildetx.org) is providing candidates.
“The purpose of this event is straight forward. It’s to give students access to the political process and it’s really that simple,” explained Brent Beal, a founding board member of Build East Texas. “We want students to be able to shake the hands of these candidates, ask them questions, and feel like they have some input.”
Build East Texas is non-partisan. All U.S senatorial candidates were invited. Mark Yancey of Dallas was the lone Republican participant.
"I am color-blind when it comes to seeing the state as red or blue or democrat or republican. I represent Americans," said Yancey.
Candidates used the opportunity to inform, more than persuade.
Sema Hernandez, a candidate for U.S. Senate told a group of student listeners, “We do want action now. We have to figure out how to do it in the most effective way. Organizing, protesting, getting your friends out to vote, participating in the 2020 Census is important.”
Another candidate, Adrian Ocegueda advised, "understand what your role is in citizenship and understand we all have to start getting educated on all these issues."
Students listened. They took notes. The question is will they vote.
“I’m optimistic,” said Beal. “I think students will vote in fairly large numbers. And I think they’ll make a difference.”