Ideas. Stories. Community.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

MCHS, SWOS Students Share Views On The 2020 Election

Courtesy of Nick Ferraro
Southwest Open School
KSJD’s Austin Cope speaks with students at Southwest Open School on Oct. 14 about their thoughts on the November 2020 election. ";

In mid-October, KSJD News visited students at Montezuma-Cortez High School and Southwest Open School in Cortez to hear what was on their minds about the 2020 election. 


Listen to excerpts from their conversations with KSJD’s Austin Cope, or read summaries of each student’s opinions below.

Vox pop: Extended version featuring excerpts of Montezuma-Cortez High School and Southwest Open School students sharing thoughts on the 2020 election. (Web exclusive)

Aleyxa Stafford
From: Lewis
Voting in 2020 election? “Yes … I feel that it’s important, and also because I hate the person in office right now -- just personal opinion.”
Preferred presidential candidate: “I was leaning towards Biden, but at the same time I’m looking into other candidates, because I believe that both of the parties that are shown right now have their disadvantages and advantages. So, it’s more of, if I can find a better candidate that fits what I see, then I’ll vote for them, but if not, my vote goes to Biden.”
Family’s views: “My grandparents, my mom and my sister, they are very Democrat, but they understand that I am very in-the-middle … My dad and my brother, they are very Republican, and I’ve gotten into multiple fights with them. There was one time I called my dad a white supremacist, because he kept saying the N-word. So, I kind of don’t talk politics with my dad and my brother, but I will talk with my grandparents because they can have civil conversations.”
What politicians should understand about young people: “What I wish politicians should understand about people my age is the fact that we have a voice. I know some people tend to think that since we’re 18, we’re new to the world [and] we don’t know what’s going on. But in reality, we do follow what’s going on, we just tend not to talk about it because it doesn’t seem as relevant … When [the killing of] George Floyd happened, that’s when I started diving into the news, trying to figure out how long … African Americans [have been] treated this way. So, we do care, they [politicians] just tend to think that since we’re so young, we don’t have an opinion, or we don’t know what we’re talking about.”

Cristian Rogers
From: Tyler, Texas; moved to Cortez
Age: 19
Voting in 2020 election? “I’m not planning to vote in this upcoming election, because both parties seem to be more focused on trying to win, less about the issues that [are] currently happening in our country … but voting is important. Our voices need to be heard, and they can be heard through the votes, and all that. The only reason I’m not voting is because neither party seems to be focusing on what’s happening."
General political philosophies: “I’m more or less the person that doesn’t take a political side because that usually just leads to big business, and stuff like that. I’m just more-or-less in the middle ground, looking at both sides.”
What politicians should understand about young people: “I wish politicians could understand what it’s like to be little people, like people are like us who don’t have much, just trying to get by in this world … trying to understand and respect that. Not like ‘let’s raise taxes here, raise food prices there.’ Stuff like that is stuff we don’t need. We don’t have the cash, we don’t have any of the influence that they do to get what they need.”
Final thoughts: “Definitely vote, if you have a strong opinion on either candidate. Like I said, the only reason I’m not is because both sides don’t seem right in my opinion this time around. But next election I’ll try to vote if candidates are more civilized.”

Angelica Scharnhorst
From: New Mexico
Age: 18
Voting in 2020 election? Yes
Preferred presidential candidate: “I’m kind of in the middle, but I most likely will be voting for Biden ... I really like his views on certain things, like abortion … I just like the way he talks, or his views on everything. It’s a lot better, in my opinion, than Trump’s.”
General political philosophies: “I guess I would say I’m a liberal … I would consider myself pro-choice, as well. I think women should have their rights in abortion. I personally think adoption is not the way to go, because … of how many kids are in foster homes, [and] getting abused -- sexual abuse. It’s really terrible. I’m personally adopted, so I kind of know how that goes.”

David Christian
From: Cortez
Age: 18
Voting in 2020 election? Yes
Preferred presidential candidate: “I’m going to vote for Donald Trump … I feel like he is a better presidential candidate, and I feel like Joe Biden will just ruin the economy.”
Down-ballot races: “I haven’t really thought about the state candidates, besides Lauren Boebert … because she supports the 2A [Second Amendment]. I feel like as a country, and as the people of the United States, I feel like it’s our right to bear arms, and in case we have a tyrannical government we can overthrow them.”
Other issues: “Politicians should focus more on crime rates, because it keeps families safe in America, and that’s what we should be focused on, is being safe and prospering as a whole.”
What politicians should understand about young people: “What I wish politicians would understand about people of my age is that we have a mind of our own, and you shouldn’t be trying to force an ideal or anything on someone.”

Devon McHenry
Age: 17
Voting in 2020 election? No; not old enough
Presidential candidate supported: “If I were to be getting people around me to vote for one of the presidential candidates, I would definitely advocate for Biden … For one, he’s not Trump [laughs]. I think a huge thing he has going for him is [that] he believes in the Green [New] Deal. I think our environment is super important, and I think we need to care about that more. Also, I really do like some things about Kamala Harris, his vice president.”

Reese Smith
From: Cortez
Age: 19
Voting in 2020 election? “Yes, I am planning to vote in the upcoming election. It’s important to vote if you have the opportunity to, and get your voice and opinion out there.”
Preferred presidential candidate: “I’m having a really hard time right now, because I really love our public land, and it’s very important to me because of the area we live in. But Trump doesn’t really support our public land, and I don’t see a candidate that really does, so I don’t know if I could stand for that, you know what I mean? I’m really trying to come to a solution on who to vote for, and who’s backing my needs.”
Down-ballot races: “We were talking about Joel Stevenson and Rebecca Samulski. I think Rebecca Samulski would probably be a better option, because she’s more educated on our local topics. She went to college for that kind of stuff, so her background checks out. Joel Stevenson … I have family ties to him, and he’s a really good guy, and he’s really looking out for our local interests, but I also feel like he might have a pull to farming and agriculture, and that’s super important, but we need to preserve our water, and I don’t know if he’s got that interest for us.”
What politicians should understand about young people: “I just want politicians to understand that our local rights are important, and that people want to see their environment protected, and we want change. If we don’t have it, we’re going to fight for it. A civil war or something would be the worst possible outlook for our country, because it would bring us down. But if we don’t get the change that we need, people are going to cause a change, and we are the reaction. You guys need to be aware of that, and keep everybody’s thoughts and considerations in check. That’s all I have to say.”

Slahuddin Siddiqui
From: Cortez
Voting in 2020 election? No; not old enough
What politicians should understand about young people: “I’d say people my age have a lot more to say and maybe a different understanding of things that are happening in 2020 that aren’t happening in the 1980s or before ... There’s a lot of different problems, you know? Nowadays, it’s about these movements like Black Lives Matter, abortion…all these other things, LGBTQ [issues]. I may not know every single one of [them], but I’d like to see different problems come up. Back in the days, there were problems that [politicians] had, and now it’s changed a lot.”

Students under 18 years old received teacher and parent permission to speak with KSJD. The audio and transcriptions have been edited for length and clarity. Special thanks to teachers Chris Kelley and Brittany Mason at MCHS and Scott Spear at SWOS for assistance in arranging schedules and socially distanced locations for the interviews.

Austin Cope is a former Morning Edition host for KSJD and now produces work on a freelance basis for the station. He grew up in Cortez and hosted a show on KSJD when he was 10 years old. After graduating from Montezuma-Cortez High School in 2010, he lived in Belgium, Ohio, Spain, northern Wyoming, and Himachal Pradesh, India before returning to the Cortez area. He has a degree in Politics from Oberlin College in Ohio.