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Young Involved Philly chief: Let’s show millennials are a voting bloc with power

Young Involved Philadelphia’s election campaign centers not so much on voting for particular candidates but voting itself. The nonprofit group, which aims to connect young Philadelphians with each other and make Philadelphia a premier city, will try to find all the young people who cared enough to vote for the 2012 Presidential elections and convince them to care as much about their local elections. So basically YIP wants Philadelphia to wake up May 20, the day after this year’s primaries, and see that young people have greatly increased their voter turnout.

Nick Marzano, president of the group, tells Billy Penn that in addition to campaigning to get more people to vote they will attempt to increase awareness through events like the April 2 City Council Candidate Convention. At the event, young people will get the opportunity to meet and speak with City Council candidates and there will be cheat sheets available for people who don’t know candidates’ particular stances. If you’re interested in helping Young Involved Philadelphia with its election plans, Marzano says to come to a meeting next week and learn how you can volunteer.

Billy Penn spoke with Marzano this week for more details on what Young Involved Philadelphia is doing this election season (the interviews has been condensed for clarity).

Q: What type of issues most concern Young Involved Philly in the upcoming mayoral election?

A: The issues that we want to hear mayoral candidates talk about are not very different from what Philadelphians of all stripes and ages want to hear about. For millennials it’s education, jobs, quality of life and crime — and education and jobs above all else because those impact the others. We need those if we’re going to be able to stick around and enjoy this city, especially those at the upper age of that millennial bracket who are starting families and thinking about where they could go for a career.

Q: Do you think the candidates have done enough to involve young voters so far?

A: I do think young people are looking for a call to action and a call to get involved and to participate. And I’m not sure what the creative solution to that is, but I know I’ll give the mayoral candidates credit for coming out and at least considering millennials as a voting bloc when they have not shown in great numbers that they will come out and return that investment. I will say there are some candidates who are looking to qualified millennials to be a part of their piece. I think there could be compelling ways to engage the millennial voting bloc beyond just petition parties or beyond debates, but I think that would be very unique and I think that would be something very outside of the box.

Q: And getting millennials involved is obviously something you guys want to do, right?

A:  Bringing attention to the primary is our goal. We want to provide as much information to our subscribers as the mayoral candidates are willing to provide. We’ve heard the personal stories of many of them. I do give them credit for speaking at the pitch party. What we’re really going to stress is the importance — regardless of who you’re voting for — the importance of millennials showing up on May 19. While it is extremely important to elect the right officials it’s also important to demonstrate to whichever officials get elected that millennials are a voting bloc with some power.

Q: Do you try to stress to young people, especially newcomers to Philadelphia, that the primary elections here are often more important than the general elections?

A: We are nonpartisan but try to stress the uniqueness of a place like Pennsylvania and try to register with them, so they know what it means in May if they register as independent. For folks who are transplants that’s especially a really important point to stress.

Q: Will Young Involved Philly endorse a mayoral candidate?

A: As a 501(c)(3), we won’t be endorsing any candidates. Our goal really is if there’s an issue that matters to our membership and matters to us, like issues of good governance — same day voter registration and open data issues — those are some issues we may get behind. We will not be endorsing.

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