Youth Voice Forum

Sunday, September 22, 2019 starting at 9 a.m. at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, IA.

6 CANDIDATES: Bennet, de Blasio, Gabbard, Ryan, Sanders, Sestak, Steyer, and Yang.
*de Blasio ended his campaign on Sept. 20, 2019

Background: This was one of a number of events piggybacking off the Sept. 19 Polk County Steak Fry.

September 11, 2019

Des Moines Public Schools, Des Moines Register sponsor Youth Voice Forum for presidential candidates

Iowa’s largest news organization and Iowa’s largest and most diverse school district are partnering to co-sponsor a presidential candidate forum on issues important to students and young voters.
Des Moines Public Schools and the Des Moines Register are holding the Youth Voice Forum at Roosevelt High School on Sunday, September 22.
At this time, the following candidates have committed to participate*:
  • U.S. Senator Michael Bennet
  • New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio
  • Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard
  • Congressman Tim Ryan
  • U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders
  • Former Congressman and retired Admiral Joe Sestak
  • Tom Steyer
  • Andrew Yang
“The Des Moines Register is proud to help present a presidential candidates forum that has been organized by young people and is focused squarely on issues of interest to them,” Des Moines Register Executive Editor Carol Hunter said. “We hope the forum will encourage young voters to engage with the presidential campaigns and participate in the Feb. 3 Iowa Democratic or Republican caucuses.”
“This forum is a great opportunity for those seeking our nation’s highest office to address what matters most to our newest voters, and will serve as a reminder that education is critical to addressing every challenge facing our world,” added Superintendent Thomas Ahart of Des Moines Public Schools.
Voting-age high school and college students from across the state will be in attendance at the forum. The event’s format will include opening and closing remarks by each candidate along with questions submitted by the audience. Ahart, Hunter and Register opinion editor Kathie Obradovich will screen and select the questions. Fez Zafar, student body president at Roosevelt High School and the student member of the Iowa Board of Education, will serve as moderator.
The forum will get underway at 9 a.m. on Sunday, September 22. Each candidate will have 30 minutes before the audience for their remarks and responses to questions. Roosevelt High School is located at 4419 Center Street in Des Moines.
Des Moines Public Schools is inviting college and high-school students to attend the event. The Des Moines Register will livestream the forum on
Information about media credentials will be released soon.
* NOTE: Details on the speaking time for each candidate, along with the addition of any further candidates, will be announced closer to the date of the event.

  • Phil Roeder, Director of Communications & Public Affairs, Des Moines Public Schools
  • Fez Zafar, forum moderator
  • Kathie Obradovich, Des Moines Register opinion editor

  • Candidates will enter the stage from back stage and will be on stage for 25 minutes. Candidate will provide a brief 1-2 minutes introduction and 1 minute closing. Students will ask questions during the remainder of the time.
  • Priority seating is provided to students. Students interested in asking candidate questions will line up on the south side of the auditorium seats. Students will approach a centrally located microphone on a riser in the orchestra pit to ask their questions one at a time.
  • Candidates will exit the stage at stage left. They will descend a few steps at the roped off southwest corner of the stage (stage left) where they will have a couple of minutes to take selfies, sign autographs, etc. Candidates will exit the auditorium up a few steps from this roped off area and attend a press gaggle in room 1110 if they desire.
  • There is only 5 minutes between when a candidate leaves the stage and another candidate enters.