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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Resident issues at forefront

Originally printed in the Oct. 13 edition of In Focus

‘#160;

He’s determined to move the city forward.

By attending bi-monthly City Council meetings since February, Gordy Heminger, coordinator of Greek Affairs, is trying to gain an understanding of the issues and concerns of Bowling Green residents and students.

“To be on city council, I don’t think you can go to a couple of city council meetings and get a full grasp of what’s going on and what the issues are,” Heminger said. “I think I’m really prepared and I have a good grasp of what the issues are and what we need to do to begin moving the first ward forward.”

Heminger is running against Ashley Harlett, a junior at the University, for the Ward 1 Council seat that will be voted on tomorrow.

One issue Heminger wants to tackle is the separation between students and permanent residents.

“If we’re ever going to be successful, people have to work together and I think I’m best able of the candidates running to sit down in a room with students and permanent residents and help bridge that gap,” Heminger said.

Living on the corner of Frazee and North Summit streets in Ward 1, Dana Rodesky agrees the needs of students and permanent residents differ substantially.

A resident of the area for almost 10 years, Rodesky has watched the ward evolve from a quiet place to a neighborhood infested with students.

“These kids have no respect for anybody,” she said. “It’s a big playground for them.”

Admitting she probably won’t vote tomorrow, Rodesky doesn’t think a student can accurately represent Ward 1 because they’re part of the problem.

“They’re too close to the enemy,” she said.

But Heminger, who owns a home in Ward 1 and interacts with University students daily, said he has the ability to understand both groups’ concerns.

And that, he said, is what sets him apart.

“I definitely understand what it’s like to be a student in 2005,” he said. “I understand how the permanent residents feel and I understand what their concerns are with students. I understand what students concerns are with some of the city policies.”

But Heminger realizes people won’t always agree on issues and policies.

“We’re not always going to see eye to eye,” Heminger said. “I’m going to talk to permanent residents, I’m going to talk to students and make a decision that’s in the best interest of the first ward.”

Heminger began his political career nearly a decade ago at age 18 as the youngest person ever elected to Maumee City Council, where he served two full terms.

While most politicians only show their face a few months before the election, Heminger has taken steps to learn the concerns of Ward 1 residents.

“I’ve been going door to door and I’ve been talking to people about the ideas they have,” he said. “I think it’s important we rely on the people for their opinions.”

Kelly Vandervort, a Ward 1 resident, said she appreciates Heminger’s willingness to seek input from permanent residents.

Heminger mailed Vandervort and other Ward 1 residents a questionnaire to better understand their concerns and suggestions.

“He was at least looking for input on what people were interested in, so I thought that was a good idea,” she said. “Otherwise, I don’t know how he would represent us if we didn’t tell him those things.”

Currently, City Council lacks individuals like Heminger who have such a close connection to both students and permanent residents, said Aaron Shumaker, University Student Government president.

“I think the problem that really plagues the community and the campus is the fact that we don’t have anyone right now to intertwine the two,” he said.

Representing the 17,300 undergraduates at the University, Shumaker is confident in Heminger’s ability unite students and city residents.

“He’s always willing to listen,” he said. “It shows that he’s really sincere and he’s genuine in his efforts and his heart’s in the right place. He really wants to better the community.”

‘#160;

Students vie for city council seat

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