Candidates clash at Firelands campus

Patrick Pfanner The Bg News and Patrick Pfanner The Bg News

HURON, Ohio — More than 500 people, including dozens of students, packed the University’s Firelands campus Thursday to watch a spirited debate between the three 9th District Congressional Democratic candidates seeking office.

U.S. Representatives Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, and Dennis Kucinich, D-Cleveland, along with political newcomer Graham Veysey, answered questions from the audience during a 90-minute debate.

The 9th district stretches from Toledo to Cleveland and hugs Lake Erie. While Bowling Green falls just outside the border, many students living in cities such as Port Clinton, Elyria, Sandusky and Huron will be eligible to vote for one of these three candidates come March 6.

When Republicans — under the guidance of Gov. John Kasich — redrew congressional lines in January, they clumped together districts belonging to Kaptur and Kucinich, who both for years represented different ends of the state.

Come March 6, only one of the three vying for the seat will become north central Ohio’s lone congressional representative.

One question posed to each candidate included: “What will politicians do to help students manage with debt they accumulate when attending college?”

Veysey, a 29-year-old Cleveland resident, said student debt is a growing problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

“Student loan debt has surpassed national credit card debt,” Veysey said.

Studies show the average University student is saddled with debt costs in the tens of thousands upon attending college, with many struggling to pay it off.

Kucinich, who preached everyone should be entitled to free education through the college level, said this country is wasting $5 billion on wars in the Middle East when it could be spending that money for students.

“No young person should be denied access to education,” Kucinich said.

Kaptur, however, was concerned about a student’s future upon graduating.

“I’m in support of a bill that would allow students to pay their debt down by working on civilian work projects,” Kaptur said. “Pay those students’ loans by doing public service.”

Any voter-registered student who lives within the 9th District can vote for one of these three candidates anytime from now until March 6.

One student energized by the political sparring among the candidates included Firelands freshman Haley Livengood.

“The debate was very informative,” Livengood said.