Students weigh in on primary choices

By Grace Dicker
The Scene staff

The U.S. presidential campaign is well under way, but many Forest Park students are still deciding how to vote in the primaries.

Automotive technology major Deonta Jackson, 22, knows which candidate he doesn’t want to be elected.

“Donald Trump is a horrible choice,” he said. “I think we need a woman in office to even everything out.”

Former  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the only female candidate now that businesswoman Carly Fiorina has dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination. Clinton is facing U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.

Forest Park graphic design major Grace Kenyon, 23, plans to vote for Sanders.

“Bernie Sanders first came on to my radar when Black Lives Matter activists hijacked the microphone at one of his rallies this summer,” she said. “He handled it surprisingly well. He let them speak. He listened. He showed his humility and humanity.”

The most important issues for Kenyon are health care, reproductive and civil rights, social justice and student debt.

“I feel like Bernie Sanders actually listens,” she said. “And lets the voices of the unheard be heard. I feel like he truly cares for those who have been let down by our deeply rooted oppressive and flawed system.”

Kenyon has been following the presidential campaign off and on in recent months.

“I’ll watch the debates and click on videos that pop up through social media,” she said. “I tend to shy away from mainstream media.”

General transfer student Zeei E. Sevalle, 29, still is making up his mind on candidates. He is concerned about education, the economy, the planet and rights for women, minorities and the LGBT community.

“I like (Clinton and Sanders) and agree with both of them on some topics,” he said. “I’m more for Hillary, though.”

The Missouri  and Illinois primaries will be held March 15. The registration deadline for both states already has passed.

Beyond Trump, other Republican candidates in the race as of press time are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

“I haven’t been actively following this election because of my vested interest in social-movement organizing,” said
communications major Hattie Svoboda-Stel, 21. “I think that politicians can always say the right things before they enter office.”

Svoboda-Stel doesn’t identify with any one political party.

“They are all operating under the same racist, sexist, classist, capitalist system that will always be geared toward growing the economy rather than serving its citizens,” she said.

In the end, Svoboda-Stel plans to vote for Sanders.

It’s not always easy to find conservatives on the Forest Park campus, but general transfer student Leah Weber, 31, plans to vote for Rubio.

“I consider myself to be an independent,” she said. “Foreign policy is the most important issue for me.”

Art education major Amanda Attarian, 21, has been busy with work and school and hasn’t followed the presidential campaign closely. She considers herself more liberal than conservative, particularly on issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

“I support Bernie,” Attarian said. “He is taking the privilege away from the privileged. Issues that are relevant to me are raising the minimum wage and how that is going to affect me. I am voting.”

Diagnostic stenography major Julie Obermire, 43, also plans to vote, but she hasn’t made a decision on which candidate to support.

“I’m on the fence,” she said. “I always vote mostly for the lesser of two evils.”

General transfer student Mollie Svoboda, 17, can’t vote because she’s too young, but she’s interested in politics. She leans to the left on the political spectrum.

“I believe it is important to have a much more moderate president than many of the other popular candidates,” she said.

“Compromise is such an important part of being president, and I don’t think that Trump, Sanders or Clinton have that quality.”

Svoboda’s most important issues are social justice, immigration and the environment.

“America has a long history of inequality,” she said. “We have made a lot of progress. However, we have a long way to go.”