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San Diego mayoral candidates David Alvarez and Kevin Faulconer squared off this weekend at Hoover High School. The forum in City Heights hosted by San Diego 6 and community groups Mid-City CAN Youth Council and Cesar Chavez Service Club had a decidedly different feel than most political debates, thanks to youth panelists like Roosevelt Middle School sixth grader Hiyab Seadedin.

She thanked her mom before throwing a hardball at the candidates, asking them how they’d give young people from underserved communities a better chance of competing in San Diego’s job market.

Both candidates said they’d invest in underserved communities to create jobs and give youth the resources they need to be competitive. Alvarez said he’d use federal development dollars to do the job. Faulconer said pension reform, which he supports, would cover some of the cost.

Youth Council member Terry Stanley II said cohosting a debate close to home will make a difference even though many in the audience can’t vote.

“It actually shows a lot. It’s showing that we have a voice and that we can actually help our own community ourselves,” Stanley said.

Teens and young adults from City Heights helped shape the questions. They focused on crime, bullying and neighborhood resources. Watch the full debate here.

Megan Burks

Megan Burks is a reporter for Speak City Heights, a media project of Voice of San Diego, KPBS, Media Arts Center and The AjA Project. You can contact her...

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