Students gather for mock candidates forum ahead of election


With just a few days left until the presidential election, students at Virginia Western Community College gathered for a mock candidates forum to discuss the presidential and vice-presidential nominees’ positions on various issues. 

It’s a yearly tradition in Former Roanoke Mayor David Bowers’s U.S. government class to help students learn about the candidates running for office.

“I learned a lot more than I thought I knew,” said Bryson Tynan, a student in the class who played Donald Trump.

Before fielding questions on a variety of topics, he and the other mock candidates had to prepare, researching each person’s positions on the issues, Tynan said. 

That included “what Donald Trump’s political views were, what he said and basically his whole stance on just about everything,” Tynan explained. 

“I’ve gained a lot of respect for the way politicians can really immerse themselves in the beliefs that they have set for themselves and what they’re running for,” said Ben Sherer, a student in the class who played Hillary Clinton. 

The mock candidates forum also included third-party candidates.

“There’s a staggering number of people who just don’t vote based on, ‘I don’t like this candidate, I don’t like that candidate,'” said Mark Shelton, a student who played Libertarian vice-presidential candidate Bill Weld. “So when you put forth the information like, ‘Hey, there’s this third option,’ getting those people motivated to go out and vote, you can get numbers that way.”

“They had to understand that they weren’t presenting their own view – they were presenting the view of their candidate,” David Bowers said. 

The mock forum, which consists entirely of students, helps the class learn about the candidates and the political process, Bowers said. 

“I hope they have an appreciation for our democracy and that they become more interested in voting and being good citizens,” he said. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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