First Student-Led Jefferson Parish Sheriff Candidates Forum

The Jeremiah Group continues to practice what the Founding Fathers preached: the ongoing attempts to make democracy an everyday reality for more and more Americans

The Jeremiah Group continues to practice what the Founding Fathers preached: the ongoing attempts to make democracy an everyday reality for more and more Americans

On Monday, March 12, 2018, The Jeremiah Group presented the first ever student-led sheriff candidate forum. The forum was driven by Jeremiah’s successful 2017 Voter Registration Drive in Jefferson Parish Public High Schools. It included registering young adults between the ages of 18-21 residing in Jefferson Parish. The drive resulted in over 6000 new voters being added to the rolls.

With an upcoming Sheriff Election quickly approaching, the recent school shooting, and the deteriorating relationship between the youth and law enforcement, it was imperative that the people most affected have an opportunity to express their concerns. Jeremiah is a staunch advocate for public safety. We strongly believe that since young people have unique concerns and issues, they should have their own platform for their voices to be heard.

It was the goal of Jeremiah to have young adults participate in the public arena: by becoming registered voters, by learning about issues and candidates, by expressing their concerns, and by better positioning themselves to make an informed voting decision at the polls.

Jeremiah designed and administered a “Public/School Safety Survey” for students at twelve (12) Jefferson Parish Public High Schools, and the students took it from there. When the students were asked if they wanted to speak with the candidates, the overwhelming response was, “Yes, let’s do it!” A core group of three (3) students from each school used the results to come up with questions ranging from racial profiling to arming teachers. The Student Core Teams from each high school directed these questions to the candidates, Interim Sheriff Joseph Lopinto and Retired Col. John Fortunato.

Leaders from Jeremiah taught the students how to plan a forum and to organize the committees needed for a successful event. With the guidance of our leadership, the students were excited to get to work.

The students’ weeks of preparation set the stage for the first ever student-led sheriff candidate forum. With an audience of over 300 hundred students, they listened attentively to questions which a direct reflection of their experiences and perception of law enforcement were. They applauded when they agreed with the answers and sat quietly when answers were not quite what they expected to hear. The students felt a spark because the forum was organized by them, for them, and most importantly, with their voices being heard.

Both candidates committed, if elected, to work with The Jeremiah Group and the youth to improve its relationship with the community.

The Jeremiah Group Youth Initiative is moving in the right direction. It is another strategy to keep democracy alive. The Jefferson Parish Public Schools System partnered in the effort by providing the venue, transportation, and lunch for the students.

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