Democracy Matters Kicks Off Town Hall with Joan Mandle


Courtesy of the Democracy Matter Virtual Town Hall

Lakeland staff and students with Joan Mandle in the town hall meeting.

The Democracy Matters club at Lakeland Regional High School was honored to have the executive director of Democracy Matters, Joan Mandle, join their town hall on March 4, 2021. 

During the town hall, Mandle spoke to the club, and any student who was interested, about campaign finance in the United States and how to contribute to solving problems in the US. During the event, students were able to ask questions and learn more about possible careers in politics.

Prior to the 2020 election, history teacher Mr. Ronald Etzkorn and seniors Katherine Bennorth and Jacob Wierer started a Democracy Matters club at LRHS. With this club they would encourage voting and provide important information on U.S. elections.


The First Town Hall

The Democracy Matters club invited Mandle to speak to the students at Lakeland. Two students from the club, junior Sara Starace and senior Precious Star, served as the moderators for that meeting. The meeting lasted about 25 minutes and was filled with the most interesting questions and answers. 

Covid-19 had restricted the club from hosting an in-person town hall which would have been preferred. Even though this could not be achieved, Bennorth says “her expertise about campaign finance and how it affects the political democratic climate was immensely informative. It was a great educational experience for both students and faculty.” 

Wierer adds that being able to “hear from a world renowned political expert” is something very exciting.

Although their time with Mandle was short, everyone who attended was able to remember something that Mandle had said. For Bennorth that was “We are the generation that has the potential to [change] the political climate for the better and it starts with each and every one of us using our voices through voting and lobbying.” Wierer had also mentioned that the “power we hold as young people” quote was very memorable.


Democracy Matters

Democracy Matters is an organization created by NBA player Adonal Foyle in 2001. His mission is to help students fight for a change in elections and to also change America. Not only is Mandle a co-founder for Democracy Matters, but she is also an Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, Emerita, at Colgate University, and she founded and supervised Colgate’s Center for Women’s Studies. 


What’s Next?

This town hall meeting will be the first of many for the Lakeland Democracy Matters club. In the future Bennorth and Wierer say that they plan on welcoming the mayors of Ringwood and Wanaque, as well as Congresswoman Mikie Sherill. This will hopefully occur in the month of April.

While the turnout for their first town hall was great, Bennorth adds that they would love more participation from the Lakeland community. 

If you are interested in any of the future town hall meetings, anticipate an email regarding the information. If you’re interested in joining the Lakeland Democracy Matters club feel free to reach out to Katherine Bennorth, Jacob Wierer or Mr. Etzkorn.