As a political activist, Amy Chiou has been to her share of candidate forums. And usually she found them booor-ing.
“They all go the same way,” she says. “I feel that you learn very little about the candidates. And it’s kind of dull.”
Chiou, 32, is an organizer of a group called “We’re the Future, We Vote,” maybe better known as #WTFwevote.
Along with a newsletter called Charlotte Agenda, she’s planning a Sept. 1 forum for Charlotte’s mayoral candidates that she hopes is more engaging, particularly for young voters.
She calls it “political PechaKucha” after the format growing in popularity among artists and other creative types. Essentially, each speaker shows 20 images that flash across a screen while he or she speaks for about five minutes.
For the mayoral candidates, the subject is their vision for Charlotte. And they’ll each bring 20 images that describe it.
Reaching millennials – people born after 1980 – has usually baffled political organizers. Studies across the country have shown that the generation is generally disillusioned with politics.
It’s no different here.
In last year’s May primary, only 2.1 percent of the Mecklenburg County voters were between 18-25, according to the county board of elections. In the 2013 local primaries, just 1.7 percent fell into that age group.
Now, 12.4 percent of the county’s registered voters are millennials.
Chiou and her fellow organizers are enticing people to their event through a social media campaign that will offer a primer on the election process and invite them to share their own ideas on Charlotte’s future.
“We’re asking our candidates to talk to millennials in a way they haven’t before,” she says, “and asking them to to try something new to appeal to a new audience.”
The #WTFwevote forum will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 1 at Booth Playhouse. To register, go to eventbrite.com and search for “Shake Up Charlotte mayoral forum.”
Here are some more traditional mayoral forums:
▪ Thursday, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.: NAACP forum, Little Rock AME Zion church.
▪ Aug. 19, noon: Uptown Democratic Forum, Levine Museum of the New South.
▪ Aug. 21, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m: Black Political Caucus, St. Luke’s Missionary Baptist Church, 1600 Norris Ave. (Also for city council candidates.)
▪ Aug. 25: TimeWarner Cable News debate, Ballantyne Hotel. Democrats go at 6 p.m. Republicans at 7:30 p.m.
▪ Aug. 28, 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m: Charlotte Post debate, Carole Hoefener Center, 610 E. 7th St.
▪ Sept. 2, 7 p.m.: Charlotte Observer/WBTV debate, Queens University.
▪ Sept. 9: Taping of League of Women Voters debates at WTVI for later broadcast.