Students vie for city council seat

Stephanie Guigou and Stephanie Guigou

You may sit next to her in your education class. You may have played against her intramural tennis team, and you may wait in the Wendy’s line next to her at the Union.

You may not notice her, but city council candidate Ashley Harlett hears you.

The junior middle-childhood education major believes her greatest asset in the election to be the Ward 1 City Council Representative is that she is aware of students’ needs.

“I hear [students’] discussions,” she said. “I know how it feels to be a student and not be treated fairly.”

The constituents she would be representing in Ward 1 are Bowling Green residents north of Wooster Street and Main Street, stopping before the Kreischer and Harshman Residence Halls, she said. Ward 1 is unique because it consists of on-campus students and long-term residents in the Bowling Green community.

Because she would represent a diverse group of people, she said she is determined to develop a positive rapport between students and long-term residents.

“There needs to be a standing ground between both of us,” she said. “We should listen to what both have to say and decide where we want to go as a community.”

She plans to have an open meeting for students and long-term residents to hear each group’s opinions on different problems like nuisance and littering, with a goal of coming to a consensus. If she wins the race, meetings like these will continue after the election.

Harlett also wants to take a common sense approach to the city’s occupancy laws – another hot topic for off-campus student residents and their landlords. The current law states that only three unrelated people may live in a house together, she said. But she would like to see the limit of people in the house be determined by the number of bedrooms provided.

Although she has made a decision about certain issues, she is focused on standing for what her future constituents want.

“I have my own opinion about stuff,” she said. “I don’t think it should be what I think, but Ward 1 – the community and students.”

Matt Reger, chair of the BG City Republican club and a political mentor to Harlett, said Harlett is listening to people to find an effective way to get transportation from the University to downtown.

Besides listening to her constituents, Harlett would need to present their needs effectively at the bi-monthly City Council meetings.

Reger said she would give a unique student perspective to City Council.

“Students have said for many years that they’ve wanted a student on council,” he said.

Because she is a student, Harlett must juggle a busy student’s schedule while campaigning around campus and researching the city laws in preparation for the election.

“She does a lot of things, but she keeps her head together,” Harlett’s Campaign Manager Danielle Winters said. “She’s still doing this thing whole-heartedly.”

Harlett was the first person Winters thought of when the City Council position opening was announced because she is ambitious, outgoing and not easily discouraged, Winters said. Winters also appreciates that Harlett has worked in several philanthropic groups like the Humane Society and Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Although she is not a political science major, Harlett has stayed active in her passion for politics through College Republicans. She worked on the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2004, and is on the Apartment Association on campus.

“It’s not about who’s right or who’s wrong,” she said, “but about feelings for this community and where they’d like to see Bowling Green go in the future.”