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New LBJ School Student Group CLASS Helps Organize Mayoral Debate

CLASS Providing Content for KXAN Austin News Debate Web Site

AUSTIN, TX, April 17, 2009-- The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs' student organization Citizens for Local and State Service (CLASS) have partnered with the LBJ School's Center for Politics and Governance (CPG) and KXAN Austin News to present an Austin mayoral debate on Wednesday, April 22 at The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum.

CLASS was formed in the fall of 2008 by a group of LBJ students who wanted to promote awareness of and involvement in local and state government. The goal of CLASS is not to engage students and citizens in specific issues but to familiarize participants with the machinery of government. It was CLASS members who originated the idea of an Austin mayoral candidate debate, partnering first with CPG and and later with KXAN, quickly turning the debate into its marquee event.

"We created CLASS with the goal of breaking down the walls of the classroom and to create opportunities for students and citizens to get more involved in local governance and the issues facing our community," said Lauren Rose, a founding member of CLASS. "CLASS is grateful to have the opportunity to partner with CPG and KXAN because their partnerships will allow us to reach a wider audience to emphasize the importance of involvement and understanding the policy issues and government processes in  your community."

"As the LBJ School faculty sponsor of CLASS, I am extremely impressed with the steps that these students have taken to further their own education in state and local government," said Sherri Greenberg, lecturer and fellow for CPG and faculty sponsor for CLASS.

CLASS students have also worked closely with the KXAN Austin News Web team to produce content for the KXAN debate Web site featuring stories focused on issues that the next Austin mayor may face as well as the candidates' positions on key issues.

"We concluded that hosting a mayoral debate on campus would help build a bridge between LBJ students and Austin and the issues facing out local community," said Kate Mason, a founding member of CLASS. "The mayoral debate allows us to bring Austin to LBJ and offers students the opportunity to interact with the community while discussing the policies we are studying. We couldn't be happier with the positive response-- students are engaged and excited to get more involved locally, and the Austin community is right here with us."

CLASS is also helping to draft questions for the debate along with the moderators and panelists. The public can also submit questions to the KXAN web site.

About CLASS:

Outside of the debate CLASS has organized outings for LBJ students to see local government in action at City Council meetings in both Austin and San Antonio as well as State Board of Education meetings,  and legislative committee hearings.  The organization also connected LBJ students with alumni working in local and state government to provide students to the opportunity to shadow practicioners in their field of interest.

CLASS members also led a panel discussion titled "Taking Public Service Education Beyond the Classroom" at this year's American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) and Certified Public Manager Conference.

CLASS members believe that all politics is local and believe that many critical elements of day-to-day life--education, health care, transportation, taxes--are determned at the city, county and state levels. Strengthening governance on the local level has an immediate impact on individual daily lives, communities and the nation.

CLASS on the KXAN Web site:

Sarah H. Chen -Transportation drives Austinites crazy: Candidates agree it needs a fix; differ on how -April 14, 2009

Katy Cummins - Austin Energy key in race for mayor: New challenges, new decisions face city leaders - April 17, 2009

Katy Cummins - Cap Metro's future on the rails? System is political football in mayor's face - April 17, 2009