Michelle Banayan, social media director
Candidates interested in joining the Beverly Hills City Council took part in the fourth annual Teen Beverly Hills Education Foundation (BHEF) Candidates Forum on Wednesday, Feb. 6 in the John Cherney Lecture Hall. Five candidates were in attendance: Mayor Willie Brien, Katherine Cohen, Nancy Krasne, Brian Rosenstein and John Mirisch.
Teen BHEF is a community service organization that “offers kids in the [BHUSD] the opportunity to work side by side with their friends to raise money, which directly benefits their own campus,” according to the Teen BHEF website.
Last year, the youth organization felt that the City Council should hear the voices of the students as they will be directly impacted by the elections. Therefore, Teen BHEF organized their first forum, asking a series of questions written by members of the organization.
“This forum is an event we came up with to get the students involved and connected in the community,” Teen BHEF Secretary Michelle Adams said. “It really closes the gap between the teens and candidates and gives the students an active role in the city and their education. We hope that the Beverly Hills youth use this as a stepping stone for further getting involved in the community.”
One of the topics discussed that night regarded student safety, both on campus and online.
“The [high school] building should be modernized and implemented with technology to improve security,” Krasne said. “[In addition], cyber-bullying is a new kind of threat to teens and we want to help stop it.”
Also discussed was the idea of free, citywide WiFi. All candidates agreed that WiFi across the city is a necessary addition. However, “the investment will be costly – so we should work on certain areas first, like schools,” Mirisch said.
When discussing the issue of Metro tunneling under campus, all candidates believed that a subway system in Los Angeles would be very beneficial, but were opposed to Metro building a subway underneath the high school.
“I am a big supporter of mass transit, but the subway should not be under Beverly Hills. I am disappointed by [Los Angeles’] decision of approving dangerous operations like a 40 storey building next to a school and a subway directly under,” Rosenstein said.
Other topics discussed were the candidates’ perspectives of Beverly Hills students, opportunities for civil engagement and prevention of students going outside Beverly Hills for consumer purposes.
Students felt the forum was a great way to have their voices heard in the community.
“Most of the topics addressed were things that I was curious about, like how to get internships in Beverly Hills. I am really glad I attended the forum because not only did I learn about what I could do to help myself, but I also learned about the candidates and how they view my concerns,” junior Arielle Shalom said.
Furthermore, Teen BHEF members were pleased with this year’s forum and its turnout.
“The number of people in attendance was much higher this year than last year. I am really proud of all the hard work we put into this event and I think it turned out well,” Teen BHEF member Nicolette Shamsian said. “I am really looking forward to next year’s forum, and I hope it will be bigger and better.”
Currently, Teen BHEF plans on hosting a fifth annual Candidates Forum.