USF hosts mayoral forum focused on service

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The race for Room 200 is about to move from a focus on fundraising and organizing to debates among the mayoral candidates.
Ben Hopfer

The University of San Francisco’s Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service will host the political season's first major mayoral candidate forum – this one focused on public service and staged in partnership with the nonprofit group buildOn – on Thursday, May 5, at 6 pm.

Candidates Michela Alioto-Pier, John Avalos, David Chiu, Bevan Dufty, Tony Hall, Dennis Herrera, Joanna Rees, Phil Ting, and Leland Yee are expected to attend. Admission is free and the public is encouraged to attend this event held at USF’s McLaren Conference Center, 2130 Fulton Street.

“The intent of the forum is to help frame the mayoral campaign and also encourage candidates to talk about what drove them to service and how people can get involved in San Francisco, especially the youth,” Corey Cook, assistant professor in the USF Department of Politics, told us. Cook will moderate the event, which will include questions from high school students participating in buildOn and McCarthy Center service programs.

Carrie Pena, buildOn’s communications director, told us, “Students from public high school will ask questions based on bare thoughts on public service and what it means to be a good public servant.”

BuildOn provides programs for students to break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy. About 90 percent of buildOn students go to college. There are 19 schools in the Bay Area working with buildOn and in the previous year, the students contributed more than 24,000 hours to the Bay Area community.

At USF, service learning is a core class part of the graduation requirement where each student dedicates at least 20-25 hours of service per 15-week semester. "Co-hosting a mayoral forum is a fitting project for USF and buildOn because it will engage high school and college students, as well as the greater community, into the process of local politics,” Cook said on the USF website.

Catarina Schwab, buildOn's vice president of development, said the partnership is a good match: “We aligned with USF because they focus a lot on service. Both were interested in a forum on service. We are even going to have a buildOn chapter at USF.”

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