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Shippensburg University College Democrats, Republicans debate to educate peers on campaign issues


By AMBER SOUTH @ShipNewsGirl College students put their own twist on the presidential debates Thursday night in order to educate their peers on where each candidate stands on issues affecting college crowd. Shippensburg University College Democrats President Irma Zejcirovic and College Republicans Vice President Nick Chapa went head to head in The Slate Presents: Decision 2012 The Choice is Yours, hosted by SUs student-run newspaper The Slate. About 100 students were scattered throughout the campuss Memorial Auditorium for the event. Naomi Creason, city editor of The Sentinel in Carlisle, acted as moderator. Some of the biggest chatter during the debate came from questions on spending, health care, job creation and education.

Zejcirovic was the first up in the debate, and answered in response to a question on spending amid the deficit and strained budgets. She talked about the Warren Buffet Rule, saying it would increase the budget by $32 million, which could provide more than 5,000 students with Pell grants, even though it may not seem a lot when compared to the $14 trillion dollar deficit.

Chapa said the math does not work out that way and that more taxes are not the answer to improving anything. He said raising taxes will only hurt the economy and will not allow small business to grow. Zejcirovic countered with a statement that only 1 to 5 percent of the 250,000 wealthy people who would see raised taxes are small business owners, while the rest are true millionaires. Another big topic was health care. Zejcirovic praised the Affordable Healthcare Act or Obamacare for focusing on preventive measures that she said would save money in the long run, while Chapa said the plan seems too restricted and has raised health care premiums to $2,500 per family. Jobs creation is on many minds this presidential election, and that was no different at the SU debate. Chapa said his view is that the government hinders jobs more than creates them. The more money you have, the more money you can spend; thus the more people in the workforce, more money (theyre) putting b ack in the government. That balances (out) and takes away these ridiculous tax hikes, he added.

Zejcirovic sees tax incentives as a way for jobs to be created and retained in the U.S. When Barack Obama took office we were losing 800,00 jobs a year and we are growing jobs now, she added. The special guest of the evening was Susan Spicka, Democratic candidate for the 89th district seat in the state House of Representatives. Her opponent, incumbent Rob Kauffman, R-Chambersburg, declined an invitation to attend due to scheduling conflicts, according to Christina Pooler, public relations coordinator for The Slate. In an e-mail Friday however, Kauffman said he was not invited to this particular event, but would have loved to be there if he had. After talking to students about her plans should she be elected, Spicka took a number of questions from the audience about voter identification, casino revenue funding horse racing, military budget, state parks and secondary education, among other things. One of those was smear campaigns and negative advertisements that often crop during campaign season. If we would all sit down and talk to each other, we would realize that we have the same goals, that we could get to the same place actually probably pretty easily and that a lot of this negative campaigningpeople dont like it, people dont want it, she said. One student even asked Spicka what she thought about Kauffmans absence. I think we can probably all imagine that Representative Kauffman would feel that (with) students paying a hugely increased tuition (he) would not want to come here to explain his votes, Spicka replied. When asked to comment Friday, Kauffman wrote in an e-mail, But I would have loved to be present last evening in a campaign capacity because Im sure students would have liked to know with whom she will stand when State System professors strike around Thanksgiving. Kauffman was speaking partly in reference to the contract negotiations between Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty. A student actually asked Spicka about this topic, but she replied with uncertainty over whether the legislature is involved. Ryan Radgoski, a junior, said after the event that he gained insight from the student debate. It seemed to be a lot of talking points I havent heard, he said. Codie Eash, a sophomore, said he wanted to attend to get the students takes on the candidates. I thought it was a really interesting way of showing the candidates opinions and views for th e country through the eyes of a younger person, he said. Amber South can be reached at asouth@publicopinionnews.com, 262-4771, or follow her on Twitter @ShipNewsGirl