The youth commissions of the cities of Cupertino and Saratoga are putting on a "Politics and Pizza" event Wednesday night.
The three segment event includes an introduction and audience question and answer period for Fremont Union High School board candidates, another such Q&A period between Bay Area candidates such as Assemblymember Paul Fong and challenger Chad Walsh, and then a simulated presidential debate of sorts.
The entire event is aimed at offering local youth a chance to see the electoral process on the local level.
In the "presidential debate" segment Campbell Vice Mayor Evan Low and Saratoga Mayor Chuck Page will take the positions of their respective parties as if to represent President Barack Obama and challenger Gov. Mitt Romney.
Low and Page will not act as the candidates, but will respond to questions in how they relate the Democratic and Republican positions on issues, says Lauren Neff, Cupertino recreation coordinator.
"It is important to get young people engaged in their electoral process," Low says. "They are not only the future, but also the present. The simulated debate will provide an opportunity for young people and other members of the public to have a chance to get a local feel of why a presidential election is important to them at the local level."
He was asked by the cities of Saratoga and Cupertino Teen Commissions to represent President Barack Obama. Low is also a member of the Democratic National Committee.
"I am excited to be around fellow neighbors and residents in Silicon Valley to have a discussion about the direction of our country and exchange ideas," he says. "Young people pay taxes and are innovative. It is important that we get young people engaged early so that they will continue to be productive members of our society."
Campbell does not currently have an active youth commission. Rusty Hammer, who was the youngest mayor at the age of 21, started a commission in 1973. Mayor Mike Kotowski has said he wants to reintroduce the Youth Advisory Commission.
Page says he's the only registered Republican in public office in the city of Saratoga.
"I love helping educate the kids," Page says. "It's important for the kids to interact with adults. The more we can get together and share with them, the better."
He says that he has seen the power that local youth can have on elections first hand.
"Students form opinions on things," he says. "When they’re educated opinions they can sway opinion. In 2010, during the Measure A campaign in Saratoga, a high school senior wrote an editorial in the high school paper and laid out all the logic why this measure would fail. That editorial changed the face of the election.
"More people began to understand it," Page says. "Kids can make a difference, even if they can’t vote."
As for the simulation, he says not preparing too much for the simulation and is relaxed about it all.
"Frankly I don’t know everything that Mitt stands for," Page says. "We’re going to try to keep it light and help to educate in the differences in ideology and talk about way partisan politics work."
The event takes place at Cupertino Community Hall at 10350 Torre Ave. starting at 7 p.m. There will be soft drinks and pizza for those that arrive early. Carpooling is encouraged as there isn't a lot of parking.