Election

A voter walks out of the Gallatin County Election Department after dropping off an absentee ballot in this 2010 file photo.

Bozeman’s new Young Professionals Advisory Council and Forward Montana are hosting an election forum geared toward young voters.

The event is Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at city hall.

“Having a forum that focuses specifically on young people is important because young people don’t often see themselves in candidates,” said Emma Bode, the Bozeman field manager for Forward Montana. “This is an opportunity for candidates to hear young people’s concerns and hopefully incorporate them into their platforms.”

The event will begin with presentations on the two county-wide ballot initiatives — the $59 million bond for a new Law and Justice Center and making county elections nonpartisan.

The two groups will then ask city commission candidates Zachary Krumm, Mark Egge and Michael Wallner and mayoral candidates Cyndy Andrus and Brian LaMeres questions on topics that matter to young people — climate change, the environment, affordable housing, diversity, inclusion, equity and justice.

Audience members will also be able to ask questions.

“This is a chance to elevate the voice of young people,” Bode said.

The city created the Young Professionals Advisory Council this summer, and this is the first event the group is hosting. The council has about 25 members who meet monthly to learn about city initiatives and operations.

“We focus on transparency, and the forum is an extension of that, enabling people to learn about the election,” said council member Amanda Jungles, who is helping organize Wednesday’s forum.

Deputy Mayor Chris Mehl helped form the council, which includes employees from more than a dozen local businesses. The average age of Bozeman residents is 27, and Montana State University students make up a sizable portion of the population, so Mehl thought the city should reach out to more young people.

“The city didn’t really have a place for young professionals, and this group has changed that,” Jungles said.

Ballots for the Nov. 5 election will be mailed to registered voters on Wednesday. Those who aren’t registered to vote can register and receive a ballot at the county elections department up to — and including on — Election Day.

Perrin Stein can be reached at 406-582-2648 or at pstein@dailychronicle.com.

Follow her on Twitter @PerrinStein.