Arizona Politicians Join Forces in Bi-Partisan "Democracy Forum"

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Public Discourse to Encourage Civic Engagement on Key National Issues

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Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Arizona's Secretary of State Ken Bennett (R) will team up at a "Democracy Forum" on October 30 in Tucson to promote civil discourse on the key national issues of immigration and the economy. Dr. Peter Likins, President Emeritus of the University of Arizona, will emcee the free, public event taking place from 1:30 until 4 p.m. at the Arizona Historical Society/Museum.

At the Forum, Secretary Bennett and Congressman Grijalva, who are from differing political parties, will each present their position on immigration and the economy then the audience will ask questions, discuss the issues and vote on them. The National Student/Parent Mock Election is spearheading the Democracy Forum, which is designed to bring parents, grandparents, children and public officials together in a bipartisan, intergenerational, multi-ethnic forum.

"Recent heated public debates on vital national issues - including immigration here in Arizona - have centered on much hate and vitriol, manifested in public protests, in the media and in our schools. Our forum's purpose is to counter that trend, exemplifying how bipartisan discussions and disagreement can exist within a content of decency," said Gloria Kirshner, president of the National Student/Parent Mock Election.

Other event highlights include:

  • Borderlands Theaters will present excerpts from its hit show "Arizona: No Roosters in the Desert," a play about four women's trek toward the American dream.
  • A patriotic/ historic costume contest for all ages.
  • Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University, Bruce Mason, will speak about the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances and explore the history of protest movements in America since colonial days.
  • Dr. Rudy Byrd from the Sons of the American Revolution will explain why Spanish soldiers voluntarily sent parts of their salary to the Revolutionary army and how, records show, teenagers and minorities endured extreme hardships to win America's democracy.
  • Video of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and other celebrities including Morgan Freeman, Reese Witherspoon, and Whoopi Goldberg heralding the Declaration of Independence and current American freedoms.

"We hope that by increasing their understanding of the past and evoking empathy for the current predicaments of their fellow human beings, we can help today's young Americans envision and work toward the common good, using civil discourse and respect as tools to achieve their goal.
We want to prepare Americans of all ages to pass the torch of democracy - still burning brightly with the values for which the founding fathers fought," added Kirshner.

The National Student/Parent Mock Election's Democracy Forum planning committee includes Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett; Congressman Raul Grijalva; Dr. John Pedicone, currently a candidate for superintendent of Tucson Unified School District, vice president of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council and senior fellow at the University of Arizona; Dr. June Web-Vignery, executive director of the Metropolitan Education Commission, historian and author; and Dr. Peter Likins, president emeritus of the University of Arizona. Pearson, the education services and technology company, is a sponsor of the National Student/Parent Mock Election.

The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Please call (520) 797-7590 or email nspme(at)aol(dot)com to reserve a seat.

About the National Student/Parent Mock Election
The NSPME is the nation's oldest, largest and most successful voter-education project, dating from 1980. Since the first Mock Election in 1980, nearly 50 million young voters have cast their ballots and, in the process, discovered what it means to be an American citizen and the value of citizenship in our democracy. Visit http://www.nationalmockelection.org for more information.

Contact:
Gloria Kirshner
520.742.9943
NSPME(at)aol(dot)com
http://www.nationalmockelection.org

Kate Miller
kate(dot)miller(at)pearson(dot)com
800-745-8489

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Gloria Kirshner
NSPME
520.742.9943
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Kate Miller
Pearson
800-745-8489
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