Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Voters did not elect student candidates

University students have helped run Bowling Green by serving on city council in the past.

But no students were elected to council this year.

Ashley Harlett and Ashley Gilbert, juniors, didn’t get enough votes in Tuesday’s local elections to secure a council seat.

Harlett received 80 votes and was defeated by Gordy Heminger for Ward 1.

Though Gilbert secured 254 votes, it wasn’t enough to win the Ward 2 council position. Gilbert lost to John Zanfardino.

B.J. Fischer, council president, said he supports students’ desire to run for council.

But he stressed that a member’s commitment to serve the community is more important than if the individual is a student or not.

“Regardless of whether someone is a student or long-term resident, the test of their ability to serve is their ability to represent all the people in their ward,” Fischer said. “You don’t have to be a student to represent students effectively.”

But Jim Wasil, president of the College Republicans, disagrees.

The only way students can be accurately represented is by fellow pupils, Wasil said.

“City council is not about an individual’s ideas, you are there as a representative to bring out others’ ideas,” Wasil said. “I truly believe a student is best fit to represent a student.”

Wasil said the outcome of Tuesday’s election could potentially be detrimental to students.

“I think it could hurt us, it could hurt students’ voices,” Wasil said.

But despite Harlett and Gilbert’s defeat, Megan Newlove, Ward 3 councilwoman, said she’s impressed with their involvement in city government.

And their campaigns placed a spotlight on issues, like improving relationships between community members and students and accurate representation of students by city council members, Newlove said.

“By virtue of being in the race, they were able to bring attention to issues of concern for students,” she said.

It’s been more than six years since a student has been elected to council, but students still have opportunities to be heard.

They can either attend the bi-monthly meetings or contact their representatives, Newlove said.

“It’s important for everyone to have their views heard and have the opportunity to express themselves whether that’s actually being elected and serving or coming to meetings and speaking to council,” she said.

Wasil said although he pushes students to attend council meetings, they usually “gripe rather than go.”

But it’s virtually impossible for Newlove and other council members to know every problem or issue residents want addressed, she said.

“It’s important when students feel there are issues that are of concern to them that they make them known,” Newlove said. “I might not know of a particular issue unless someone brings it to me.”

Wasil argued that if a student served on city council, their peers would be more likely to attend meetings.

“It’s hard to talk to people that some might consider to be on a different level,” Wasil said, referring to current council members.

Though Fischer said he’d like a student to be elected, ultimately it’s up to local residents to decide.

“It’s my job to work with the people the voters send,” Fischer said.

“It’s really the voters’ call in terms of who they want to be represented by.”

Fischer has discovered – throughout his 14-year tenure on council – it doesn’t matter if council members are students or not.

It’s all about the individual’s level of commitment and dedication.

“The key thing is not where you come from, but what you do when you get there,” Fischer said.

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