Around 70 people from many parts of the non-profit sector sipped drinks, munched burgers, and mingled in the living room-like atmosphere of the Daily Bar and Grill in Lincoln Square eagerly anticipating the presidential debate at the Young Non-Profit Professionals Network’s (YNPN) viewing party on Tuesday.
Marissa Filippo, executive co-chair of the YNPN says it’s important to bring individuals together to watch the debate, so they can be better educated on serious issues.
YNPN’s mission is to strengthen nonprofit community by providing accessible professional development, resources and networking opportunities, such as this one.
“We wanted to have something where our members can come watch the debate and have meaningful conversation with their peers,” Filippo said.
The viewing party was a mix of young professionals, middle-aged and older attendees eager to see how the candidates performed on key issues, like women’s rights and the economy.
For many people, like Paige Halpin, it was an opportunity to get out, mingle and meet others who shared views similar to her own.
“I really love politics,” Halpin said. “I’m really nervous about Gov. Romney’s stance on birth control and women’s issues in general.”
Around eight p.m., the chatting and mingling stopped and all eyes were on the two flat screen TVs at the front of the room, gearing up for a feisty town hall debate.
As the debate got underway, attendees cheered for Obama and disagreed with most of what Romney said. When Romney asked Obama about his pension, and Obama replied, “I don’t look at my pension, it’s not as big as yours,” the viewers erupted in laughter and applause.
When the question about the differences between former president George W. Bush and Romney came up, Romney’s response received negative feedback from the crowd, who felt like he was dodging the question.
“There he goes again, talking about China and other irrelevant stuff,” one attendee shouted out.
Viewers seemed satisfied with Obama’s debate performance, as he and Romney discussed issues, such as gun control, that mattered to the people working in communities stressed by gun violence.
Tanesha Davidson, a youth advocate said she felt that Romney was not being realistic when speaking about gun violence issues.
“Romney should take a trip to the South Side, over to 47th street and see what violence is like in America, not Mexico,” Davidson said.
By the end of the night, the guests were pretty sure on who they felt won tonight’s matchup between the candidates.
“[Tonight’s debate] was very entertaining,” Rachel Kimball, a business analyst said. “I thought Obama was very assertive with all his facts and rebuttals to what Romney was saying.”
“I came in with a bias and I knew that he [Obama] was going to come out on top,” Kimball said.
Rob Donahue, who serves on the programming committee of YNPN, says events like these are important to bring people together and get them engaged in the political process.
“I’m thrilled that [young professionals] in Chicago are interested in this conversation,” Donahue said.