Western held a congressional debate on Tuesday, Oct. 14 where students could ask candidates questions about their position on important subjects.
Dr. W.A. (Bill) Hedge and Russ Monchill are both running for Missouri 6th District of the United States Congress.
Dylan Gibson, a political science major, had a big hand in organizing the debate.
“Politics affects pretty much every aspect of everyone’s life,” Dylan Gibson said. “There’s a serious problem with people not turning out to vote. I feel like engaging people in the political process directly will help that in some way.”
Thomas Cassity, who is also a political science major, was excited to learn where the politicians stood on each subject.
“The most important topic I hope they discuss is abortion,” Cassity said.
Despite having Hedge and Monchill present, the students and faculty who organized the event were unhappy with Congressman Sam Graves, who failed to respond to their invitation to the debate.
Several attempts to contact the congressman were made, but no response was ever given on behalf of Graves.
“I think that it reflects poorly on Graves’ campaign choices,” Cassity said. “Due to the fact that we had asked in an email if the date we had set couldn’t work for him; we’d like them to contact us with a date that could. And to my knowledge, they never responded. So, I’m a bit disappointed.”
Gibson agreed that Graves’ lack of appearance was not the best impression on voters in the area.
“I feel like it shows where [Graves’] priorities are,” Gibson said. “I’m sure he’s probably on a campaign somewhere with friendly voters or donors, rather than coming to constituents, instead of actually talking to people that he needs to hear from.”
Dr. Jonathan Euchner, assistant professor of political science, moderated the debate. He said they would stick with topics such as the budget deficit, foreign policy, Obamacare/healthcare, the gridlock in Washington and the disconnect between the government we want and the taxes we’re willing to pay.
Euchner believes that forums like the congressional debate are important to everyone, not just the candidates. He believes it is an opportunity for students to learn about the candidates and their views, as well as keep them informed as voters.
“The problem is not having forums; the problem is getting candidates to come to forums…” Euchner said. “Particularly, the good congressman who we invited repeatedly. They’re useful for voters. They’re useful for students, who are also voters. And they’re useful for candidates.”