“If more young people would register and vote, more politicians would pay attention to young people,” he told seniors at the downtown school. “Every election is important.”
Padilla, the first Latino secretary of state, touched on the controversy over immigration that has been a major part of the 2016 Presidential campaign.
“You might have heard that there are some Presidential candidates saying certain things about immigrants in America,” he said. “Back in 1994 that same stuff was being talked about by politicians here in the state of California.”
It was that political situation — the anti-immigrant Proposition 187 backed by then Gov. Pete Wilson — that caused Padilla, the son of Mexican immigrants and a recent graduate of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to abandon a career in engineering for one in politics.
Asked by one student who he is voting for in the Presidential primary, Padilla said, “I can’t tell you her name, but if you ask me later I’ll tell you who I’m voting for.”
Hundreds of students gathered in the school’s gym to hear Padilla speak, ask him questions and then register to vote at a table set up by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.
“We have over 100,000 students, and your voice counts,” said San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten. “We know turnout in California will be through the roof. The questions is, will your voice be heard?”
Several students spoke during the hour-long event to urge their classmates to register and vote.
“We must take on the responsibility. We must become registered voters,” said Bella Paredes, student body president at the school.
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