State and national Democratic candidates campaigned and met TCU students and Tarrant County voters Saturday, encouraging participation in this year’s election process.
State Rep. Rick Noriega, candidate for U.S. Senate and keynote speaker at the rally, focused on making health care more available for families and soldiers returning home from Iraq, making a college education affordable and attainable for all families, bringing home the troops in Iraq safely and lowering national debt.
Noriega said of all the free countries in the world, the United States is the largest debtor nation.
Roy C. Brooks, a candidate for first precinct of the Tarrant County Commission, said change has to start with the county courthouses. He said together Democrats can continue to make Tarrant County the kind of place that leads the nation in Democratic values.
“I will proudly stand with whoever is a Democratic nominee, because we have nothing to be ashamed of anymore,” said Tracey Smith, a candidate for Congressional District 12. “We cannot outspend the Republicans, but we can outwork them.”
State Rep. Dan Barrett, up for re-election to the Texas House District 97 in Fort Worth, said Republicans have the money and Democrats have the votes, but people are the ones that matter.
Chris Turner, a speaker and candidate for Texas House District 96, said it is important to get involved, all political affiliations aside.
“Pick a candidate that you like, that you support and get involved, volunteer and – most importantly – vote,” Turner said. “The issues in this election year are going to affect your generation for a long, long time, so it is important to get involved.”
Noriega said he is encouraged by the increase of student participation in the election process and in the Democratic Party across the country.
Students are beginning to realize how significant their opinions and influences are in the political process, he said.
About five members of the TCU Democrats were present as well as about five TCU students, some of which are involved in the Barack Obama campaign and were recruited by Doreen Geiger, founder of the New Democrats of Southwest Tarrant County.
“I know a very sad, staggering amount of the TCU student population remain largely apathetic, and I find that extremely depressing, because they complain that we don’t have a say anymore, but they don’t do a thing about it,” said Megan O’Brien, junior art history major and member of TCU Democrats. “I’m one of the few that really cares.”
The civics available through today’s media, whether it’s Facebook, MySpace, the Daily Show with John Stewart or the Colbert Report, allow for a greater ability to communicate, Noriega said.
“I witnessed the first re-election ever held in Afghanistan,” Noriega said. “Women in burqas were standing in line after line with their children in 100-degree heat for the opportunity to vote. And here in our country we get frustrated if we are inconvenienced, the polling places change or we have to wait in line for 10 minutes.”
Brian Young, a volunteer for the Barack Obama campaign, said the messages at the event were relevant to all groups.
“There was a lot of energy,” said Young, a junior political science major. “I thought there were some great things that were said pertaining to people in the city, in the county, in the state and then of course in the country. It got me excited.”