Candidates, students drawn to Bay voter drive

ESCANABA — Bay College students had a chance to get ready for November’s general election while meeting candidates who will be on the ballot for this election during the college’s 2018 Voter Registration Drive and Political Campaign Fair. The event was held in celebration of Constitution Day in Cafe Bay Tuesday.

The Voter Registration Drive and Political Campaign Fair was coordinated by Bay Political Science Instructor Molly Campbell.

“It’s an opportunity for the campaigns to directly meet with students and staff at the college,” Campbell said of this event.

The event also gives students a chance to register to vote.

“We have the Escanaba City Clerk’s office and the Delta County Clerk’s office — they’re registering voters today and … helping people with applications for absentee voting,” Campbell said.

According to Delta County Clerk Nancy Kolich, the Voter Registration Drive and Political Campaign Fair successfully accomplished its goals.

“I think it’s a great event — it’s a good way for students to get registered and meet the candidates and learn about the issues,” she said. About 45 voters were registered during the event.

The full Voter Registration Drive and Political Campaign Fair is held every other year, Campbell said.

“We run the full voter drive and campaign fair every two years for major elections,” she said. However, a Constitution Day event is held at the college each year.

For 2018, several political candidates were in attendance at the event.

“It’s been exciting this year — we have so many of the actual candidates themselves here,” Campbell said.

Bay College President Laura Coleman was also enthusiastic about this.

“We are so excited that so many of the candidates were available to come and that our students have been able to interact with them,” she said.

Two of the candidates present at the event were Ed McBroom (R) and Scott Dianda (D), who are both running for the 38th District state Senate seat. McBroom said he was glad to have an opportunity to attend this event.

“It’s always great — Ms. Campbell always runs a really nice event and always has the students well-prepared … to discuss the questions and issues that are important to them,” he said.

He also noted his goals in attending the event were to help young people get more politically involved and to campaign with potential voters.

“I appreciate the opportunity to help make the students more aware politically of what’s going on and how they can participate,” McBroom said.

Dianda said he was pleased by the interest shown by Bay students attending the event.

“I think it’s great to see all of these younger citizens of Michigan coming out to meet the candidates and the fact they’re so engaged on the issues that are (going to) affect them moving forward,” he said.

According to Dianda, he attended in order to share his message with area students.

“My (goal) coming here today was to educate the new voters on who is going to stand with them in the future,” he said.

Incumbent Beau LaFave (R) and challenger Bob Romps (D), who are vying for the 108th District state House seat, were also in attendance.

“It’s been incredible — it’s great to see the students engage with the candidates,” Romps said, noting he was impressed by the questions asked by Bay students at Tuesday’s event.

Romps said he hopes the Voter Registration Drive and Political Campaign Fair continues to be held in the future.

“I think it’s important that our young adults are able to learn what’s going on in our government and be active in it,” he said.

LaFave was pleased with the event, as well.

“I think it’s going fantastic — to see young adults interested in public policy and substantive, productive debates is very encouraging,” he said.

He noted that he viewed the event as an opportunity to connect with his constituents.

“The fact of the matter is, everyone here today pays my salary, so … if they have questions, I want to make sure it’s easy for them to ask those of me,” LaFave said.

Candidates running for seats on the Bay College Board of Trustees and sponsors of ballot proposals were also present at Tuesday’s event.

Bay freshman Jeff Allen said he appreciated hearing directly from multiple candidates at the Voter Registration Drive and Political Campaign Fair.

“I really enjoyed it — I like that you get to hear all the politician point-of-views, and you really get to weigh your options on a much more personal basis,” he said.

Abby Runkel, a junior at Bay, also liked meeting various candidates at this event.

“There’s not a lot of other places … that students are able to go meet representatives, due to busy schedules and work and school,” she said. Runkel went on to say that she was glad to be able to hear from Republican and Democratic candidates.