Juneau ready to Rock the Vote

Event aims to inspire youth to get involved in the political process

Posted: Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Will Muldoon got hooked at a young age - to politics.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

He now wants to get other young Alaskans hooked, too.

The 24-year-old Juneau-Douglas High School graduate is co-organizing a Rock the Vote event Saturday at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center. The event, which is intended for young adults ages 18 to 25, will feature about 10 groups, including a hip-hop show.

Co-organizer Teri Tibbett, a Juneau author, artist and musician, organized Juneau's first Rock the Vote during the 2004 general election and is spearheading this week's event.

Tibbett worked 10 years as a legislative aide. She said politics has always been important to her and is something she always emphasized to her two children, who both became politically active in high school through student government. Tibbett also will perform during Rock the Vote with her son, Alex Nelson, 19.

"The event is about getting young people informed and involved in the political process," she said.

"I believe in our political process ... and I want to see others involved in it," Tibbett added.

Rock the Vote was first organized nearly 20 years ago as a way to get young voters engaged in politics to achieve progressive change by combining politics and music. Events are held across the nation and each offers booths where young voters can register and receive information about upcoming elections. Past mouthpieces for Rock the Vote include Madonna and Snoop Dogg.

The event will be nonpartisan and is designed to provide information, Tibbett said, adding that information tables will be set up at the event.

Tibbett invited representatives from the Republican, Democratic, Libertarian and Green parties to participate. She is unsure who will show up to the event, however.

DJs and emcees from Anchorage have been invited to perform in the hip-hop show at 6 p.m. Northkut Wolf Pack and DJ J-keys and friends have already signed on. Other performers include Carl George, Pat Henry, Deering and Down, Slow Gun Runner, Chris Silver and friends, and Travis Croteau and Libby Sterling.

With presidential and state elections just months away, Tibbett and Muldoon hope to get the next generation of voters registered and ready to play their part.

"This is a year-round organization, but they really turn the gas on when elections get closer," Muldoon said.

Muldoon, who works as a pre-press technician at the Juneau Empire, hopes the Rock the Vote rally will attract 250 to 500 people, but said he'd be "happy if just one person" shows up and registers to vote.

"Politics, especially in Juneau, is a communal activity," Muldoon said. "You can be that change. (Rock the Vote) is about a positive attitude and making things happen."

Muldoon first got involved in politics in high school when one of his former teachers, current Juneau School District Assistant Superintendent Laury Scandling, helped him acquire an internship in Juneau Sen. Kim Elton's office. A year later, after graduating from JDHS, he ran for a vacant Juneau School Board seat. Muldoon lost the election to an 18-year-old classmate.

"When I was 18, I figured what better way to vote than for yourself," he said.

Muldoon said when he first meets with young potential voters about getting politically involved there's some resistance, but eventually many take notice of how their voice can make a difference in the community.

"I always tell them that registering to vote is key," he said. "At first I get a little disbelief but afterwards it's positive. But this year, I think they're seeing how they can make a difference."

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