Millennials: What they want from the candidates

Story highlights

  • CNN Opinion asked 10 millennials to weigh in on how well 2016 presidential candidates reflect the priorities of their generation
  • They said the candidates had a long way to go to address concerns about jobs, education, immigration, inequality and more

(CNN)CNN asked millennial voters from a range of backgrounds to weigh in on whether, and how well, the 2016 presidential candidates are reflecting the priorities of their generation -- the largest and most diverse demographic cohort in American history -- as they make their case to voters. The opinions expressed are solely those of the authors.

Elizabeth Elizalde, 22, is a New York-based journalist and a former CNN en Español intern. Follow her on Twitter @EElizalde5.
Elizabeth Elizalde
I'm a 22-year-old Latina living in New York City, and as a recent college graduate, I know the struggle of making ends meet. My college expenses kept me up at night, especially the time I paid $120 for a book, $116 for my MetroCard and $840 for an extra class. I worked multiple jobs, but by the end of a semester, I would still be broke. It was worth it for my degree, but would I have had a better educational experience if money worries hadn't been so overwhelming?
    I want to see a change in college costs but have heard little on this so far. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders proposes a tuition-free community college and raising the minimum wage to $15. But I'm unsure if his plan would create jobs with better salaries for young people. Jobs are a big concern.
    Immigration reform is another issue that hits close to home. Born to an Ecuadorian mother and a Mexican father -- both American citizens -- I know how hard my parents fought to give me a better life. Some candidates like Donald Trump want to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants but don't consider the damage to our economy and taxpayers' pockets.
    So far? Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, the youngest candidate and the son of Cuban immigrants, seems to identify with millennials like me because he knows what it means to live from "paycheck to paycheck." On this score, he gets it.
    As the presidential race heats up, the candidates remain focused on petty infighting. I want to hear less bickering and more about their policies. My generation and our children's future depend on their decisions.
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    Michael Tubbs, 25, is a Democratic council member for the city of Stockton, California. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldtubbs.
    Michael Tubbs
    In 2012, then 22, I decided to move back to Stockton, a city that had suffered back-to-back years of record homicides, had an unemployment rate of 20%, was home to some 30,000 children living in poverty and had just declared municipal bankruptcy. We need presidential candidates to talk about strategies to help cities such as mine across the country, which are struggling to reinvent themselves, and to usher in a new era of civic innovation.
    The presidential candidates have talked of urban violence, but not nearly enough about structural violence, defined by sociologist Johan Galtung as the "avoidable impairment of basic human needs." Every day in this country, children go to bed hungry and go to sleep listening to gunshots, and go to schools that don't provide them a quality education, and live in ZIP codes that often determine their destiny. This is what I want to hear about from the candidates. What will they do about this?
    These problems are not isolated: They routinely intersect to produce great inequalities such as the education achievement gap. As a child of a teenage mother and an incarcerated father, as a friend of many who have fallen into the cradle-to-prison pipeline, I am intimately familiar with the urgent need for solutions.