Student Government Association hosts forum to connect students and local politicians


Colin Stevenson

Moderators ask questions of the candidates to help the audience understand for whom they are potentially voting, Oct. 3.

As the midterm election nears, the Student Government Association, the political science department and the League of Women Voters hosted a candidate forum to inform the Wichita Falls community and register them to vote.

“The SGA and League of Women Voters have been doing a great partnership to really work on helping to register students to vote and I know all the political science professors have tried to also make sure that all of our students know when the deadline is to register. It is Oct. 11 and we want everyone to know there is still time to register to vote if you haven’t done so. The best thing you could do if you want your voice heard on Nov. 8 is to vote,” Linda Veazey, chair and associate professor of political science, said.

The event was a collaboration between the two organizations and the political science department. Veazey brought them together after speaking with the League of Women Voters who have held candidate forums in the past and for SGA who have been wanting to educate students on voting.

“It all started back in the summer, [SGA] got to meet with student governments from across Texas and the University of Houston was really wanting to encourage other Texas universities to take on voter registration, candidate forums, just to encourage students to vote. Other student governments from Texas do this very commonly and MSU student government had never taken this on,” Zetta Cannedy, SGA vice president for external affairs and political science senior, said “Following COVID we lost some of our political organizations like the MSU democrats, the MSU international [and the] young republicans of Texas, we have MSU democrats back this year but no one had really stepped up on that role yet. We saw that gap and SGA said this needs to be filled because it is important for students to vote and especially when we hold it on campus for students.” 

This was the first time MSU has held a candidate forum. The event was open to students and the Wichita Falls community.

“There’s two reasons. First of all for students to be able to see their local candidates and to meet them, I’ve got to bring them where the students are. The second part is to bring members of the community here, to meet our students of MSU, and to see MSU. MSU has been part of this community for a 100 years and one of the things we have is the ability to put on events, to bring our community together and show our students our great community as well,” Veazey said.

Local candidates attended the forum to introduce themselves and answer questions about issues affecting the Wichita Falls community. After the questions, the forum allowed for those in attendance to speak with the candidates in an informal setting. 

“It definitely makes it more accessible. A lot of MSU students aren’t from here, they’re not from Wichita Falls, they have no idea what’s going on in Wichita Falls but they register to vote here. A candidate forum specifically is really important for students to get out and learn about who they’re voting for,” Cannedy said. “[Wichita Falls Independent School District], the election here is pretty big as you can see with the signs around town but most students haven’t gone to WFISD school so they don’t understand what they’re voting for. The candidates being here I’m sure was immensely helpful to inform students that they do have an impact on Wichita County and that they should vote and be informed about what they are voting for.”

During the general election voters of Wichita County will elect WFISD members of the school board for districts one, three and five and for the school board at large. Candidates that spoke at the forum were Sandy Camp, WFISD school board at large candidate, Jim Johnson, WFISD school board district five, Tom Bursey, WFISD school board district five, Janaye Evans, county judge candidate, Jim Johnson, county judge candidate, Michael Neumann, U.S. representative district 69 and Walter Coppage, U.S. representative district 69.

“I believe that local elections are critically important. They’re the ones that affect our daily lives here in the local community and so having those conversations with elected officials and candidates at a local level are extremely important,” Eric Queller, SGA vice president of internal affairs and management senior, said.

The League of Women Voters had a table by the entrance to register people to vote or change their addresses. They also informed voters on how to vote and what is needed to vote.

“To be able to vote you do have to register with the secretary of state’s office so they do have to receive a formal application that you do want to vote without voter registration you are not eligible to vote in the state of Texas and you have to do that beforehand because there is no same-day voter registration” Cristin Martin, member of the League of Women Voters and political science senior, said. 

The last day to register to vote is on Oct. 11. The League of Women Voters provided information and resources for the different ways voters can vote such as vote by mail and early voting.

“It’s so important for college students to register to vote because our age group has the potential to be the largest voting block in the state of Texas. So being the largest voting block means we have the most political power within the state and then we will be the most influential to make decisions about what our Texas elected officials do,” Martin said.