In the hotbed of Kentucky politics, candidates for this year’s Republican primary will be making an appearance in a gubernatorial debate on April 22.
The debate, which will take place in the Otto M. Budig theatre in the University Center at 5 p.m., is free to students, and will feature three of the four candidates including Hal Heiner, Matt Bevin and Chris McDaniel, lieutenant governor nominee to Jamie Comer. Will T. Scott had a previous engagement and is unable to be present for the debate.
The event will begin with an opening from President Geoffrey Mearns followed by introductions by Kat Hahnel, who primarily planned the event and is the next NKU Student Government Association president, followed by each candidate having three minutes to introduce them and their platform. Hahnel will then ask two questions in which each candidate will have two minutes to respond before opening it up to audience questions. A meet and greet with candidates will follow.
Hahnel, who ran her SGA election with a platform to push for outcomes-based funding from the state, says that she believes events like this will help the potential for a bill like that to be passed.
“My hope is that by bringing the potential future governor to our campus, to interact with our students they will get a personal connection to our students and they will have that memory and they will see just how valued our students are, how great our campus is,” Hahnel said.
Hahnel said she expects the evening’s discussion to be heavily focused on education and federal budgeting for universities as the debate is primarily for students even though it is open to the public.
“It’s going to be student focused and student lead,” Hahnel said. “It’s mainly to inform the students, have them be educated, so that they know who they can vote for if they are voting in the primary and to get them involved.”
The idea for this event came about because Hahnel said she feels that students at NKU should be more involved with politics and deserve a chance to speak with the person that could be representing them since students aren’t typically able to attend other events where candidates will be.
Hahnel herself was able to attend an event where the candidates were and approached them about the concept of coming to NKU for the debate.
“I just made it very clear that students aren’t very well reached,” Hahnel said. “We don’t have the opportunities to go to some of these events… It’s not as likely that college students, especially the average college student that is involved in politics gets to hear any of these candidates speak.”
Hahnel is hopeful that she will be able to bring both Jack Conway, the current Democratic candidate who is running unopposed in his party, and the Republican candidate back to campus in the fall for a debate closer to the November elections.