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The BG News
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November 30, 2023

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Ward 1 candidates face off at debate

Last night Ward 1 city council democratic candidates found the importance of experience versus a student’s perspective at the core of their debate.

Candidate Nathan Nickens stated a platform surrounding his value as a student and his ability to bring a student’s perspective to city council.

“Students need an effective voice to advocate student rights,” he said. “I’m a student, and my judgment is sound, and I think I have established a sound report with students on campus.”

Candidate Gordy Heminger stressed the importance of his years of experience in politics as the reason he should be nominated for the ticket.

Despite questions raised about his role as a University employee, Heminger remains loyal to students.

“I recognize that I am an administrator and I work for students and I realize that without them I would not have a job,” he said.

While both candidates currently live in Ward 1 and consider themselves informed citizens they cited many differences between each other throughout the debate.

Heminger plans on using his position as someone employed by the University to reach out to students and although he is not a student, he is still in touch with students today and their needs, Heminger said.

“I know what the issues are from students of all walks of campus,” he said.

He also cited his strong link with student government and groups on campus as a qualifying factor for the position.

“I think my connection here on campus is with good student leaders, a wide variety of resources and contacts,” he said. “My experience couples with the wide variety of connections I have with people in the first ward make me qualified.”

Nickens raised questions about Heminger’s devotion to the democratic party concerning a 2000 republican vote.

Heminger denied that this in any way will hinder his performance as a council member or as a democrat. He also raised issues against Nickens regarding his move to Ward 1 shortly before announcing his candidacy, to which Nickens said does not effect his role as a candidate.

Nickens also presented his endorsement by all five city council members as valid backing for his candidacy in response to questions of his experience as a politician.

Heminger cited his many years of experience working in politics and his length of residency in Ward 1 compared to his opponents. He also noted that he is a homeowner and payer of city taxes and will work to keep the integrity of homeowners.

As residents of Ward 1, both candidates can relate to housing issues.

The issue of the zoning law coincides with the need for more parking spots at many of the residences. Landlords are to blame for wrong doings regarding housing, Nickens said.

“We need to develop a legal council to get these people removed,” he said.

Heminger favors mending the ordinance rather than changing it. Regardless of what is done as far as ordinance laws, the value of the neighborhood and protecting its integrity are most important, he said.

The two candidates addressed questions regarding racial profiling in clubs downtown, recycling for off-campus students and the proximity of the railroad tracks to students’ residences.

Club owners are the people who should be taken into account for such violations, Nickens said.

Heminger favors informing students about the discrimination and encouraging them to stop patronizing the clubs.

Nickens also mentioned having meetings before city council meetings to get input from students as to what issues they have and to inform them as to how he will be voting.

“I will establish a tradition of having meetings before meetings,” he said.

Instead of having students come to him, Heminger advocates going to the students by reaching out through campus organizations.

“Working together with students in Ward 1 is all about listening to students and advocating for students,” Heminger said. “I think the relationships I have can only serve students, not hinder students,” he said.

Both candidates stressed they are qualified and will support each other regardless of who is nominated in the May primary.

The debate touched on many issues at the forefront of the primary campaign, sophomore Amanda Belcher said.

“It was very interesting how they addressed everyone,” she said. “They certainly addressed issues important to students.”

Senior Amanda Dlugiewicz found the debate to be beneficial as well.

“I thought it was very interesting and unlike any other debate I’ve attended,” she said. “They put forth interesting questions for all democrats in the first Ward.”

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