Do you know who the mayor of your community is or how local government operates? Apparently a number of college students of voting age don't, and that has prompted a political science professor at Ocean County College in Toms River to organize the First Annual Mayor's Panel this month.

"The students remember the three branches of government vaguely, and it's never really been explained to them," said professor Jennifer Barnes, who also serves on the Bay Head Council. "Maybe they forget some of it, or maybe it wasn't introduced, I'm not exactly sure, but when they come  to college I noticed that they really don't have much of  grasp on how it operates," she said.

Barnes said whether students realize it or not, local government impacts their lives directly.

"So, I'm trying to drum up as much excitement to follow the election, to follow politics, to follow government as I can, so that they become more educated voters in the long run," Barnes said.

The forum will give students and the public an opportunity to meet their elected officials, "and to have a conversation with them about the things that are going on in their town and maybe perhaps how they can get involved in their own community," Barnes said.

Sixteen mayors from Ocean County and two from Monmouth County are expected to participate in the forum, according to Barnes.

The forum will take place Oct. 27, at 11 a.m., in the Gateway Building Lecture Hall on OCC's Main Campus, located on College Drive, in Toms River. The event is free and open to the public.

Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com.

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