Temple’s chapter of the Pennsylvania College Democrats Association hosted the PCDA state convention at Main Campus on Friday through Sunday.
Sixty students from PACD chapters across the state attended panels centered around the convention’s theme: “We Are The Now.”
PADC is an affiliate of the College Democrats of America, which is the student branch of the Democratic Party. Its purpose is to educate students on the ideals of the party and work to advance its platform. The convention is an opportunity for college Democrats across Pennsylvania to share ideas and learn more about the party.
The event — which consisted of a banquet Friday evening, nine panel sessions on Saturday and elections for PACD state leadership on Sunday — hosted prominent speakers including Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and state Sen. Sharif Street.
Three Temple students were elected to PACD state leadership positions: Junior political science major Jordan Laslett is the president, sophomore political science major Benjamin Aitoumeziane is the eastern vice president and Temple College Democrats president and junior strategic communication and political science major Christina Borst is the state council chair.
Kenney spoke at the opening of the convention Saturday morning.
“I’m 59 years old so I know I’m like a relic as far as you’re concerned, but you really need to step up, and you are stepping up by being involved in this type of organization,” Kenney said to the crowd.
Borst said she was excited for the opportunity to meet other young political leaders.
She and Ronald Joseph, who is the PACD chairman and a senior political science major, wanted the event to showcase how young people can be a part of politics now, instead of the future.
“It really goes back to the importance of mobilizing young people, connecting young people to each other…and really just to convene us all here and to focus on the importance of not only being the future of our country but being the now,” Borst said.
“It’s never too early to be involved,” Kenney told The Temple News. “It’s never too early to register to vote, or to be involved in volunteer efforts to change your country, change your city, change your state, and I’m very proud of them that they are agreeing to do that.”
Sammie Konecki, a junior history major at West Chester University, attended this weekend’s event. She said she enjoyed seeing people she met at last year’s convention.
She added that the outcome of the 2016 presidential election was upsetting, but helped motivate her.
“I was devastated when [President Donald Trump] was elected, and now I finally feel like I’m doing something about it,” Konecki said. “It feels really good and, better yet, I’m doing it with…absolutely amazing people that share my values, share a common vision for our country and the world.”
One panel at the convention, which was moderated by Borst, called “Governing Today” focused on how young people and the rest of the public can become better at navigating government.
Panelists at that discussion included students like senior political science major George Basile, who is also an advocate for on-campus recovery housing, and Madeline Clapier, who is a senior history major and scheduler for state Rep. Donna Bullock.
Frank Iannuzzi, who is the legislative director for Philadelphia City Councilman At-Large Derek Green, Andre Del Valle, a legislative aide for Philadelphia City Councilwoman Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez and Numa St. Louis, a political and policy advisor for U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, also sat on the panel.
They answered questions about what their days are like and how they handle accomplishing things despite opposition.
Kenney said young people must be ready to get involved in politics, as older members of government look to retire.
“Older people tend to push younger people aside and say they’re not ready, they’re not mature, they’re not experienced, I don’t believe that,” Kenney said to The Temple News. “I think they are experienced as anyone, have great ideas and need to bring those ideas forward.”