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Bronx Teens: What Presidential Election?

Editor’s Note: The following story was originally published in Bronx Youth Heard, a publication of the Bronx Youth Journalism Initiative, a free journalism program for Bronx high school students run by the Norwood News. We are currently accepting applications for our spring semester. To find out more about the program and how to apply, click here. The Bronx Youth Journalism Initiative is supported by the North Star Fund, the Johnson Family Foundation Fund, and City Councilman Fernando Cabrera, and is run in collaboration with CUNY’s College Now program at Hostos Community College.

By Natalie L. Azucena

Teenagers in the Bronx aren’t concerned about the upcoming presidential election next fall. The Republican candidates running for the party’s nomination aren’t even on their radar.

“I know that one of the guys running for president got caught in a 13-year affair,” said Kiana Montero, a junior at Women’s Academy of Excellence in the Bronx, referring to former candidate Herman Cain. That’s all she knows about the race.

“I am not interested in politics,” she added.

Though they don’t know follow politics, local kids are concerned with a number of political issues.

“Pollution, global warming and the stock market,” is what Bronx resident Jocelin Camilo, 17, said she was interested in.

Through movements like Occupy Wall Street and, closer to home, Occupy the Bronx, teens and young adults are finding avenues to voice their unease. However, few show any interest in who the next president will be. This concerns some Bronx leaders.

New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera, a Democrat who represents the Bronx’s 33rd senate district, said teens should pay more attention.

“What you’re seeing right now is a bunch of folks trying to cater to you, trying to pander to the worst elements of this country,” he said, of the ongoing Republican race.

“Herman Cain said ‘If you’re not rich, if you don’t have a job, don’t blame Wall Street, blame yourself,’” Rivera said. “That is exactly what some of the Republicans believe about us…about the families and the people that live in my district,” he said.

He also believes that public opinion of Barack Obama has changed since the president was elected in 2008, but he continues to support him fully.

Young people say their opinion of Obama has also changed.

“He might be trying, but he’s not giving people what they need,” Montero said.

“I think Obama is a very good leader considering what he has done, coming into office in a messed up situation,” said Ashley Brea, a 16-year-old junior at Women’s Academy of Excellence.

Carina Rodriguez, another 16-year-old junior, is indifferent.

“I don’t really have an opinion of him,” she said. “I don’t know what he has done for me.”

Though few Bronx youths have been following the race, some say that as it gets closer to the election season, they’re realizing they should.

“I’m going to start following the race,” said 17-year-old Bronx resident Jeanettza Serrano. She’ll be 18 and eligible to vote by November and says she’ll be casting her ballot for Obama.

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