By Sophie Foster
As gubernatorial elections approach on Tuesday, Nov. 8, Washington College’s Voting and Civic Engagement Committee invited several candidates running for office in the state of Maryland to converse with students and members of the campus community about their platforms and goals.
The first of two forums was held on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. in the Egg in Hodson Hall Commons, and featured candidates for the Kent County Clerk of the Circuit Court Amy Nickerson and incumbent Sherise Kennard; candidates for the Kent County Board of County Commissioners Tom Herz, Ted Gallo, Albert Nickerson, John F. Price, and incumbent Ronald Fithian; and candidate for Kent County School Board incumbent Nivek Johnson.
On Friday, Oct. 28 at 11:30 a.m. in Hynson Lounge, Congressional candidate Heather Mizeur, challenging incumbent Andy Harris, was also invited to campus.
Both events offered refreshments and a social time, during which students spoke with the present candidates to hear more of their platforms and connect on a more personal level.
According to sophomore Stephen Hook, these events gave candidates the opportunity to “center student voices” and provide students with the opportunity to consider “involving ourselves in local elections, [which] is crucial to electing representatives reflective of our values.”
Students took this opportunity to ask each candidate questions in order to further understand their platforms and make more informed decisions as voters this election season.
This also provided candidates with a chance to develop increased awareness of issues prioritized by their youngest group of potential voters. The issues discussed at the forums included party polarization, pressing issues affecting the Eastern Shore, inflation and small businesses, job expansions, gerrymandering, transportation accessibility, and forming a greater sense of unity among constituents.
Mizeur in particular emphasized a need to approach these issues regardless of the status of the elections once they come to their conclusion. To Mizeur, one of the biggest drawbacks of our political sphere is that currently it’s “more about a big power struggle and who’s in charge and setting the agenda,” Mizeur said. “When safe space is created for dialogue, we feel open to vulnerability.”
The forums encouraged students to consider and more fully approach these issues from their own vantage points, and encouraged candidates to deepen their insights on which issues should be approached on a more thorough level.
“You don’t wait to make a difference after you’ve won an election,” Mizeur said, explaining that the work she plans to do if elected is also the work she is currently doing, and the work she will continue to endeavor to do even if she is not elected.
Gubernatorial elections take place in Maryland on Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. that evening. Students residing in Maryland can either vote via mail in ballot or vote at their polling location, which can be found at voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/PollingPlaceSearch. Chestertown residents should report to the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company at 211 Maple Avenue if they choose to vote on Nov. 8.