The City of Coral Springs hosted its fifth annual teen political forum which was open to all students at local Coral Springs schools.
The event which was held at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts on April 2nd is a question and answer forum to educate students on matters that are important to them.
Started by Mayor Roy Gold over five years ago, this event has successfully bridged the gap between students and elected officials.
Panelists this year included: State Representative, Jim Waldman, State Representative Franklin Sands, Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda C. Snipes, Broward County School Board Member, Donna Korn, Mayor Roy Gold, Vice Mayor Tom Powers, Commissioner Claudette Bruck, Commissioner Vincent Boccard and Commissioner Larry Vignola.
Students attending J.P. Taravella, Coral Glades High School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, Coral Springs Christian Academy, Coral Springs Charter and all private schools were welcome to attend.
Students also received service hours for attending the forum.
Students asked a variety of questions and were able to “tweet” them to a special twitter account at the event. Many lined up to have a chance to ask their questions during the open forum.
One person sent a twitter message to school board member Donna Korn to ask her what her position was on having open campus lunches.
“If there are any parents in the room you’ll be very happy to hear that safety is the very first thing we have to think about when we’re talking about our kids. At the same time I would tell you that I would tell you that we have kids going off to college and to be able to have different opportunities for lunch. I think we can have lunch with more opportunities than what our cafeterias offer by offering outside vendors coming in to our schools. In fact, in one of our schools we are having some limitations potentially on what lunches are being offered and one of the suggestions I posed was having food trucks come in and really bring something exciting and different.”
A student asked Commissioner Vincent Boccard, “How would you like to see the appearance of the city improve?”
“That’s something that we’re doing right now. We have a five year capital project in place. I believe curb appeal brings residents, residents brings business, business brings economy. We fill up our businesses, we fill up our industrial parks, we have a great tax base. That’s how you do it.”
Dr Brenda Snipes was asked what projects or plans are currently being implemented to encourage students to become more educated voters.
“Thank you for asking me that question, as a matter of fact, we just completed one of the most popular high school voter registration drives that we’ve ever done. In total, more than 11,600 students registered to vote in Broward County.”
The auditorium erupts in applause.
“Yeah you can applaud that,” said Snipes.
Not all questions were serious.
The evening had some interesting “quick fire” questions as well. Like when State Representative Sands was asked whether he preferred Nicki Minaj or Lady Gaga.
Or when Commissioner Bruck was asked if she was a candy bar, what type would she be?
“A Kilwin’s candy bar.”
Good answer on her part, since her son owns Kilwin’s in Coral Springs.
One question that seemed to be on many everyone’s minds was finding a place for teens to go at night. Mayor Roy Gold was asked, “If the new downtown is developed in the next few years, how can we cater to teens that can only hang out at Magnolia (theater area)?”
“I’ve always tried to work as much as I can to improve the lives of all of our residents especially our young people, because we value the young population as much as we do. The downtown area is an untapped resource. I had the privilege of going to Columbia University in December to meet with world class leaders in architecture and design, and they came up with some plans and some ideas that would actually incorporate youth programs, youth ideas, art….things for people of all ages, including mine.
There’s a lot of opportunities and we’re actually having a Visioning Summit on April 26th and 27th where we meet with approximately 100-plus residents to ask these type of questions right here because we get our best answers from people like you.”
Commissioner Larry Vignola was also asked something similar. “Having young children, we know that family is important to you, how will the plans for the new downtown area be geared towards younger families?”
“I think it’s important that when we take a look at our downtown area that we look at other cities and what they have done to be successful. One of the places that I visited was Charlottesville, Virginia. It’s kind of like Lincoln Road (Miami Beach), but family friendly. We want people out there pushing strollers at 10 am, we want business people going there for lunchtime, we want people like us taking their wives out for dinner and we want people like you in a few years going out there and hanging out there having a good time. We want it to be a 24 hour thing. I would like to see us put a playground in the middle of it to drive people in there with young kids, we’ve also talked about an amphitheater and some other things.”
Mayor Gold said, “Our downtown area is a clean slate right now. There’s pretty much not a lot going on right now. There’s a college coming there. Hopefully, this commission and future commissions will work towards building a new civic center area and incorporate those ideas that are brought forward by young people themselves. I have often been at The Walk, near Kilwins (laughs by audience) to ask young people. I introduce myself,‘Hi, I’m the mayor,’ what can we do to make this city better. I constantly listen, as do all the members of the commission because we get all our ideas from the people and thats what we want to do to improve our city.
We’re constantly in a framework on how to make the city better. We’re very proud of where the city is right now, but we want to make it better and through your ideas we will make it better, said Gold.”