It was a tough crowd. About 20 audience members were crawling on the ground, growing restless, often speaking at once and asking difficult questions. The county council candidates for District 2 kept their cool, answering questions to the best of their ability and trying to engage the crowd.
“We thought this could be a fun, educational experience for the children in our after school program,” said Krista Bouchey, program director of The Funhouse Commons about the Candidates Forum for Kids on Jan. 28.
Kate Hansen, campaign manager for the Ayers campaign and former business manager of the Funhouse, came up with the idea after an afternoon with the candidates Greg Ayers, Lisa Byers and Rick Hughes. All three were interested in hearing from the island’s youngest constituents.
The forum gave island youth a chance to ask questions that were important to them like could the candidates create cars that fly like in the movie “Total Recall” or could smoking cigarettes become illegal on the island or will they lower the amount of diesel trucks on Orcas?
There is a lot of those trucks by my bus stop and it really stinks, said one young audience member.
Lisa Byers asked the group of five to 12 year olds if they wanted their parents to own electric cars and the majority of the room’s hands went up in the air.
Greg Ayers asked if anyone would want to run for county council?
One girl said yes, because she likes to run.
Other requests from the audience included creating a haunted house at the Funhouse, more funding for the Fire Department and police and better bike paths.
Although the candidates made it clear that some of these issues were out of their hands they urged the young islanders to be optimistic.
“We ask what the problem is and then we try to figure out how to make it better,” said Rick Hughes trying to explain how local government works.
“Everyone can make a difference if you want to help someone.”
After a half and hour of Q&A the kids were asked to vote for their favorite candidate and then dispersed before the election “ballots” were even fully gathered.
“Can we play cops and robbers now?” asked one small child heading out the door.