County parties set their sights on students

Nationally it’s been another battle year for Democrats and Republicans as each party gears up for the upcoming November elections.

Here in Wood County, the battle for office is no different.

This year, political parties in Wood County are counting on University students to vote and tip the scales in their favor.

Amanda Belcher, president of the College Democrats, wants to see students have that impact and hopes they’ll come out to the polls and vote in big numbers.

“Many students don’t always see the correlation between Washington and home,” Belcher said.

Hoping to change that for the upcoming election, Belcher was a key leader in the formation of stronger ties between the University Democrats and the Wood County Democrats, to get students informed, to the polls and voting.

“Right now the College Democrats have a good partnership with the county Democratic party,” Belcher explained.

Belcher said their work “directly [correlates] with campus needs” by creating bi-partisan information for resident advisors to hand out, as well as registering over 300 students to vote.

Mike Zickar, vice chair for the Wood County Democrats and a University psychology professor, recognizes the importance of the partnership to bring information to students.

“I’ve talked with students who thought the next election was in 2008,” Zickar said, “unfortunately, most students think of politics at the presidential level.

“Local decisions impact our lives more directly than whether George Bush or John Kerry get elected,” he said.

Zicker said Ohio, including Wood County, is in a sour condition and it is important for students to know this before voting.

“Over the past 16 years, [Republicans] have ruled the statehouse – and that’s just bad in terms of coming up with new ideas,” Zicker said.

Leading the Republican Party in Wood County for eight years, Chairman John Miller agrees with Zicker that bi-partisan efforts bring about differing ideas and students should be educated on the issues from all sides.

Yet, he disagrees with Zicker’s belief that Wood County could be doing better.

“The state of Wood County is well, things are going better than in other areas, and we have the most qualified and best officials doing the job,” explained Miller.

In terms of Republican strategy in getting the students out to vote, Miller noted Republican candidates are concerned with student issues, but outside of concern and interest, the Wood County Republicans do not have specific strategies on how to get larger student turnout at the polls.

Bethany Torres, a student activist and voter registration volunteer, has been committed to student involvement throughout her four years at the University and has personally helped register to vote many students.

“My advice is to get informed, because it won’t even take that long,” said Torres. “Go to the Board of Elections and see what the issues are in Wood County.”