MOVE San Antonio, a local voting advocacy nonprofit, is taking a non-traditional route to engage young voters.
“The average age of residents here in San Antonio is 34 years old and during the last municipal election the average voter age was 63, so we have to change that and that’s what we’re doing,” MOVE San Antonio Executive Director Drew Galloway told the Rivard Report Wednesday. “Business as usual is not going to work so we’ve got to do things a different way.”
On Saturday, Mayoral candidates and district contenders will convene at Brick at Blue Star Arts Complex from 6-9 p.m. to participate in “San Antonio Live!,” an event inspired by NBC’s Saturday Night Live!, which will include musical guest Lonely Horse and feature SA2020 President and CEO Molly Cox as the host. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the event will be standing room only.
Bexar County Democratic Chairman Manuel Medina and District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg will be in attendance. Incumbent Mayor Ivy Taylor, who is running against Medina, Nirenberg, and 11 other candidates, declined due to a scheduling conflict.
“Our generation demands more creativity, more excitement, and more energy,” Galloway said. “Obviously there are a lot of candidate forums, and so we thought [we’d] focus on Millennials and find a creative way to discuss the issues while capturing young people’s attention.”
The district race candidates attending “San Antonio Live!” are as follows:
District 2: Keith A. Toney
District 7: Ana Sandoval.
The candidate forum will include a cold open just like on Saturday Night Live!, Galloway said. Candidates will give opening monologues, participate in interactive game shows, and come up on stage to speak in three different rounds.
“For the first round they’ll talk about their priorities for the city and district, the other round is for them to show their personality in one minute without getting political, and the third round is the deep dive into policy and vision discussion of San Antonio,” Galloway explained. “This will be a great way for attendees to visualize what the candidates stand for and have them stick in the minds of young voters when we start getting them to the ballot box.”
This week, Galloway and other MOVE San Antonio members are giving presentations at UTSA to encourage students to vote and ask them why they vote or don’t vote.
“We want to help them get through the process and explain why the municipal elections are important,” he said. “At the end of the week we’ll have talked to almost 2,000 people. Last week we registered around 540 people from 13 campuses all across San Antonio and gave other students cards to pledge to vote.”
In the 2015 mayoral election, only 12.4% of registered voters turned out to cast ballots, compared to 40% of registered voters who turned out for the 2016 presidential election. Unfortunately, that percentage still placed Texas 49th in the nation, according to a report by NonprofitVOTE.
“The goal of the event is to ultimately make sure that candidates are speaking directly to young people in a way that young people get excited about,” Galloway said.
“We know that our generation values things like authenticity and excitement and so we thought that we would take this style of candidate forum, which is maybe not the most comfortable for the candidates themselves, but it’s a really authentic way to engage young people. It’s gonna show a side of candidates that normally they wouldn’t get to see at other forums, and I think that’s gonna resonate with young people.”