Hundreds turned out for the Millennial Forum at the Port St. Lucie Community Center Wednesday night as they take part in creating their own futures.
As the two candidates vying for Congressional District 18 answered questions, millennials listened intently, then they had their turn to ask questions that mattered to them.
Both Lauren Baer and Pam Keith, neither of whom have ever held political office, are running for the seat and whoever wins will face off against Republican Congressman Brian Mast in the general election.
But it’s the person who put on this event who already has countless millennial votes -- and he’s not even running for office.
Nigel Johnson, a recent graduate of Fort Pierce Central High School, is a man who believes his political aspirations could possibly take him all the way to the White House.
The 18-year-old always knew he was interested in politics.
“Since I was a little kid,” Johnson said.
Johnson didn’t necessarily grow up around politics; it’s just something he learned that he loved at a very early age.
“My first interest was President Bush,” he recalled. “I thought you were supposed to like who the President was.”
But Johnson’s love for politics grew substantially one day, the day the people elected Barack Obama as the nation’s President.
“But it wasn’t until the emergence of President Obama in 2008 when I saw someone that looked like me,” he said with a big smile on his face.
And it’s at that moment, Johnson knew what he wanted to do with his life and that’s when he realized the influence he could have on others.
“I’ve always asked my classmates why don’t you care about politics or what matters to you? And they’re always saying the same thing," he said. "It doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t affect me.”
One of Johnson's jobs, he believes, is to get his fellow millennial voters involved.
Wednesday night’s debate was one way to do that.
The two Democratic Congressional candidates for District 18 include Keith, who is not only a veteran, but also a progressive candidate who is big on criminal justice reform and immigration.
Baer, the second democratic candidate, has worked in the State Department of the Obama administration.
The two asked questions crafted by Johnson concerning the economy, the algae emergency, immigration, student debt, taxes and criminal justice reform, just to name a few.
“I wanted to emphasize to each and every one of them that there’s a lot on the line right here and that they each had a role to play in our democratic process,” Baer said after the debate.
“They’re not looking for listeners because we already know what the problem is,” Keith said. “What they’re looking for is solution-oriented fighters.”
Some say Johnson is a fighter as he fights for people his age to stand up and be heard.
“And when young people hear candidates addressing issues specific to them, I believe that that’s going to cause them and go out and have that drive to change their country for the better,” he said.
Whoever wins August’s primary will go up against Mast for November’s general election.
As for another Millennial Forum, Johnson will be off to college soon, but says other classmates will no doubt keep the momentum going.
Johnson will be attending Howard University this fall and his first degree will be in political science.