Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Young voters in Charleston County want political candidates to solve social problems, according to a series of recent man-on-the-street interviews ahead of the Nov. 8 elections.

Voters interviewed under the age of 30 said they would support candidates who seemed most likely to defend access to abortion, social welfare programs and minority rights, and that voting based on party affiliation alone was an outdated mindset. 

The majority of people who spoke to City Paper wanted to share opinions on issues. But when asked about specific candidates, “I have to do some research” was the overwhelming response. Men, in particular, were not as interested in sharing their views.  

Wenclawiak

Twenty-four-year old Jessica Wenclawiak of Charleston is a graduate student studying marine biology at the College of Charleston (CofC). She said she wished the bipartisan dichotomy in the country was not such an ingrained feature of the American political system. 

“I think the control of the Senate and the House is really important, so I want to vote to influence that,” Wenclawiak told City Paper. “The environment [and] climate change are really important to me — making sure that there’s proper infrastructure to deal with climate change and flooding that’s going to happen in the future is really important for me.”

She added that protecting reproductive rights also was important. “I’m pro-choice. Everyone’s bodies and privacy [should be] respected. People in office [should] have an understanding of why it’s so important to so many different people.”

DeAngelis

Charleston software developer Julius DeAngelis, 27, said one thing he takes the most issue with is candidates he views as tarred by money.

“Candidates who take large amounts of corporate cash — if there’s any Democrat that’s bankrolled by XYZ, Big Pharma corporations, big health insurance corporations — I’m not voting for them,” he said. “As long as the Democrat isn’t too slimy, for lack of a better, more polite term, I’ll probably vote Democratic.

“You have to vote, even if it’s for a candidate you don’t particularly like, as long as somebody’s not too terrible, and they’re for somewhat progressive policies on health care, the environment and the economy.”

Charleston resident Bambi Barr, 22, is working toward a double major in biology and theater performance at College of Charleston. She doesn’t have particular candidates selected yet, but she has started to compile an overview of the elections for her younger sister who just reached voting age so they can learn together. 

“We have had a lot taken from us,” Barr said, “and we have had a lot not go well in the past few years. First I look at: Will you bring diversity? Second: Do I agree with your views? Third: Will you actually try to make a change?”

Judge

Chris Judge, 28, works in the food and beverage industry downtown. The big issue on his mind is voting Gov. Henry McMaster out of office by supporting Joe Cunningham.

“We need some new blood and a younger-generation politician who can relate to younger people,” he said. “Basic common-sense laws need to be implicated, like more affordable housing.”

He said Cunningham isn’t necessarily “the answer,” but he has more potential to help young people than McMaster.   

“Voting is one of your social responsibilities,” Judge said. “It’s one of those things that you do to contribute to society — otherwise you’re just complaining about what’s going on in the government.”

Charleston resident Molly Crary, a 22-year-old CofC theater studies major, said she was looking for candidates who support progressive policies.

“I’ve noticed like a recent push [for] anti-transgender laws,” Crary said. “I’ll definitely [support] candidates who support LGBTQ+ rights, and I also generally like candidates who support social welfare programs.

“I guess I feel a little jaded,” she said. “When Roe v. Wade was initially overturned, I felt [there was] a lack of responsibility and urgency from the Democratic Party.”

Jadrian Manderville, 29, works for a vehicle manufacturer in Ladson. He said young voters being involved in elections at the state level is extremely important. 

“Women should have the say-so to whatever they want to do with their own body,” he said. “I think it’s unfair that men are trying to control females. What about the younger generation that’s coming up? They have no say-so because [the older generations] have control.”

CofC student Marisa Robes, 19, said she feels like congressional elections directly affect constituents a lot more than presidential elections. And while the Charleston resident said she is extremely upset about the overturning of Roe v. Wade, she feels that is a reflection of what happens when party affiliation is held as the highest priority. 

“People voted [Trump] in simply because it said ‘Republican,’” Robes said. “The way that he’s taken the Republican Party is completely off-center of what they actually value. And that’s the problem with just voting because it’s your party,” she said.

“Everyone should vote. You can’t complain if you do nothing. Even if there’s no candidate [you identify with], you can still choose the lesser of two evils.”


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