Students give Green Bay mayoral candidates a lesson in social justice

Published: Mar. 27, 2019 at 5:25 PM CDT
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Green Bay mayoral candidates showed their support for 7th graders at Aldo Leopold Community School. The students presented speeches about social issues that matter in the city and across the country.

The candidates in next Tuesday’s election are Eric Genrich, a former state lawmaker, and Patrick Buckley, a Brown County Supervisor. Both have ties to political parties but agree it's important to be nonpartisan in this race.

Parents, students and Green Bay mayoral candidates came to support the 'Social Justice Listening Session.' There, a number of social issues were brought to light through student speeches.

"We have been working on the research and the speeches for about three weeks,” said Amanda Peper, an English Language Arts teacher at Aldo Leopold Community School. “They are emphasizing some of the data they collected and then what they want to do to be part of the change."

Each of the students picked the social issue they wanted to talk about, which included LGBTQ+, homelessness and environmental pollution.

Mayoral candidates say they're impressed with the solutions the students presented.

"Fighting for equality for all people, for environmentalism, and combating homelessness I think really should be motivating for all of us," said Genrich.

"A lot of them came up with good ideas for potential solutions to the issues, and it's good to see," said Buckley.

A student in Peper’s class, Greta Gartzke focused her speech on LGBTQ+ rights.

"I wanted the candidates to think about the laws surrounding discrimination against gender identity, because though we do have laws regarding sexual orientation, you know transgender people could still be evicted or refused services," said Gartzke.

Gartzke and her classmates, hope having the mayoral candidates at the listening session means the issues will be a focus, regardless of who wins office next Tuesday.

"The position of mayor is really a bully pulpit and you can use that platform to advance our culture, and create a welcoming and open community, so that's what I plan to do with it," said Genrich.

"Without identifying issues and discussing them, it's really hard to come up with good solutions,” said Buckley. “I think that's what we need to work together as a community, to come up with solutions on how to address some of these issues."