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High School Press Corps Puts N.H. Congressional Candidates To The Test

Annie Ropeik
Congressional candidate Chris Pappas takes questions from high school students at a workshop in Durham

The candidates for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional district made their first joint appearance today since their primary wins.

Democrat Chris Pappas and Republican Eddie Edwards took tough questions at a wide-ranging press conference… with high school journalists.

Pappas and Edwards stood side by side in the Oyster River High School multi-purpose room, surrounded by teenagers brandishing reporters' notebooks and cell phone cameras.

The candidates laid out their platforms on issues like gun control: "This is an issue that's best resolved at the state level, like New Hampshire is doing,” said Edwards, “rather than putting the federal government in a place where it has control.”

Credit Annie Ropeik for NHPR
CD1 Republican candidate Eddie Edwards answers a student's question at a journalism workshop in Durham

Pappas said he supports more federal intervention, including background checks and increased support for law enforcement.

On the opioid crisis, both candidates say they want pharmaceutical companies to help pay for the cost of treatment. Pappas says local residents and nonprofits can't do it all themselves.

"They can't do this based on bake sales alone," Pappas says. "They need more stable funding streams coming out of Washington address this crisis head on."

The high school press corps they spoke to was part of an annual journalism workshop, which this reporter helped teach. Most students say they won't be old enough to vote in November's midterms, but they will be able to vote in the 2020 presidential election.

So this journalism exercise was also a political education.

Oyster River senior Alana Ervin says it's eye-opening, since her generation has grown up through the 2016 elections and increasing partisanship in Washington.

"To be able to kind of be reintroduced to politics for a lot of us, to see it's not always like that, is really refreshing," she says. "I think we need more of that."

She says the more that future voters – and journalists – can see politics as accessible, the more engaged they'll be.

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