ASHLAND A recent graduate of Ashland Blazer High School put together a debate for citizens to get to know the city commission candidates.
Langley Sebastian originally planned Tuesday’s event for April and to be in person, but because of restrictions from COVID-19, it had to be postponed. She got the idea because of her love for politics. She thought it would be a good way for new voters to get to know the Ashland city commissioner candidates.
“I wanted to host a debate at school and host a voter registration,” said Sebastian.
Sebastian had to make some slight adjustments since the discussion was broadcast over Zoom. She decided to make her questions more broad and less focused on the new voter age range to ensure it was accessible to everyone.
“Our vote matters just as much as someone who is well into their adulthood,” said Sebastian. “It’s OK for us to be involved and give our opinion. Our vote still counts.”
Sebastian said the commission candidates treated her very well before the debate started, never treating her differently because of her age. She said they were respectful.
“We didn’t get into fine details and Langley asked the questions important to her and there were some different opinions given,” said Josh Blanton. “Hopefully, the citizens took the time to really take the time to listen to what we had to say and understand the differences between what we said.”
Blanton is one of the nine candidates running for the Ashland city commission.
“We are thankful for Langley,” said Blanton. “(She organized this) on her own with help from My Town TV. Unfortunately, it’s the only scheduled debate or meeting of any kind in the same space. We were thankful to get one chance and we didn’t expect any person events.”
“I thought of things that were relative to where we are now,” said Sebastian. “I’m learning about these candidates myself. I want to be informed as well and I know they have had limited exposure because of COVID-19.”
Sebastian said she was very pleased with the way the community reacted to the debate.
“She is mature beyond her age,” said city commissioner Marty Gute. “I was really impressed with how she handled things. It is very tough to have nine people on a Zoom meeting and answer the questions in one minute.”
Gute encouraged Sebastian to come back after she finishes college to run for city government.
“I think she could easily come back and run for mayor or commission in the next four years and easily win,” said Gute.
Sebastian will be attending Transylvania University in the fall and hopes her education will take allow her to work with the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Overall, I thought it was successful. I felt good about the debate and I was encouraged,” said Gute.