Student loans, legalizing marijuana and raising the minimum wage were all topics that were discussed at the State House of Representatives Candidate Forum, which took place in Blum 218 on Oct. 23.
The forum, which was organized by political science students here on campus, gave students the chance to learn about what is going to be on the ballot this November and what the candidates running in their districts thought on a variety of different topics. Missouri Western junior Kaylee Sharp planned the event in hopes that it could help get students prepared for voting on Nov. 6.
“This was a candidate forum for Districts 9, 10 and 11 for State House of Representatives,” Sharp said. “All of these candidates cover some portion of Buchanan County, which includes Missouri Western. This event was meant to educate students on different candidates in the hopes of getting them comfortable with voting and comfortable with going to the polls in November.”
All three candidates that were at the forum, which included Bob Bergland running for District 9; Shane Thompson running for District 10; and Brady O’Dell running for District 11, had things to say when it came to decreasing student loan debts.
While there were many topics covered at the forum, one of the questions that was asked by a current Missouri Western student was how politicians could help alleviate some of the costs that students have to pay when it comes to student loans.
“I am currently paying student loans, and I don’t even have a degree,” O’Dell said. “Because of the cuts in funding to the higher education, that’s one of the reasons that your tuition has gone up because they have to make up the difference. Changing that would help not make your tuition as high.”
The forum, which was initially supposed to have six candidates present, only had three show up after all three of the Republican candidates from Districts 9, 10 and 11 cancelled. Missouri Western senior Joseph Kellogg, who was the moderator for the event, spoke on the absence of these three candidates.
“We were given various reasons for them not showing up,” Kellogg said. “There really was no elaboration. We were just told that there were conflicts.”
Sharp also commented on the absence of the three Republican candidates saying that they all three had said that they would be at the event, but then cancelled.
“Brenda Shields, when I invited her, said that she had another engagement that she had this evening, but that she would try and stop by, but she emailed me yesterday saying that she was not going to be able to make it,” Sharp said. “The other two just straight up cancelled.”
When Missouri Western faculty member Dr. Jonathan Euchner asked the three Democratic candidates about what they thought on their political opponents absence at the forum, all three of the candidates present had things to comment. Shane Thompson, who is running to represent District 10, thinks that the age groups have a large effect on political opinions.
“I think that they are so far away from the younger crowd that they don’t want to deal with the younger voters,” Thompson said. “They are so stuck in the the old ways that things have been done, and don’t want to hear anybody’s opinions on the new wave coming.”
Candidate Brady O’Dell, who is running for the 11th District, added his input on the Republican candidates absence as well.
“Look at their priorities,” O’Dell said. “They were at the press association forum because the press was there, and as for this event, they don’t believe that the young people are dependable, so come out and vote.”
Overall, the forum was successful as students, faculty and community members came out to hear what their representative candidates had to say. The forum could not have been possible if it wasn’t for Kaylee Sharp organizing the event for the campus community and Joseph Kellogg holding the show together as he was the moderator through the evening. The night was a success and now it is up the us- the voters- to see what is to happen next.