Tuesday's forum at CAHS was organized by the school's Social Studies Department, whose chairperson said that she also wanted to get the parents more involved so they could make wiser decisions at the polls.
"The students have been learning about politics for the last two weeks," said Ceciley Grant-Robinson. "They have been learning about the roles and responsibilities of the governor, our delegate to Congress and the senators. And I think it is very important for the students to understand what is going on with their senators, because they are the leaders, they are the ones responsible for making the laws and making sure the students have a brighter future."
The students asked the two panels of candidates questions about their plans for fixing the territory's dropout rate, attracting more students to the teaching profession, creating more youth programs, getting more young people to come out to the polls and whether they favored lengthening the school year.
Students also asked about broader community issues, such as high energy rates, rising gas prices, their plans for keeping the government's debt from impacting future generations and whether the recent release of retirees' retroactive money was timed to coincide with the Nov. 2 election.
Most of the candidates said crime and education were the two top issues affecting the territory, and also had various ideas on how to fix the high energy problems. Senate hopeful Shirley Sadler, for example, talked about how cars in Chile are being powered by ethanol, a fuel-based derivative of alcohol. Since the territory has a large rum industry, Sadler asked why that method couldn't be used here.
"Let us use the rum, not to drink but to drive with," Sadler said.
Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone spoke about the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause and said the territory needs to introduce a new source of energy technology to reduce the rates. Aspirant Bishop Darryl Williams said that one solution could be the construction of a hydro-electric plant that would use a combination of wind, solar and drip irrigation.
Talking about education and the possibility of lengthening the school year, Sen. Louis Hill said that the United States is being outranked by countries such as India and China. Hill said that he would support any initiative that would prepare the students for their future and raise their achievement levels.
Aspirant Dwane Callwood echoed the sentiment, saying that locally, the students have to start competing with the rest of the world. Sen. Carlton Dowe was more neutral, saying that the government would have to do what's best for the children and the rest of the community.
On the other side, however, senatorial aspirant Joseph "Wojo" Gumbs said he does not necessarily agree with increasing the number of school days because "quantity doesn't equal quality." What the territory has to do is have better-trained teachers, he said.
Speaking afterward, many students had positive reactions to the forum.
"I felt that it was very helpful," said CAHS senior Byron Todman. "We got to see a lot of their ideas for upcoming legislation and what their plans are while they're in office. It really gave great insight to their character and what they hope to accomplish. "
Other candidates participating in Tuesday's forum were: Sen. Alvin Williams, Stephen "Smokey" Frett, Horace Brooks, Janette Millin-Young, Wayne "Factsman" Adams, Clarence Payne, Sen. Patrick Simeon Sprauve, Tregenza Roach and Dolores Todman.