Opinion: Students and professors share their thoughts on governor’s race

Voters cast their votes at the Bowling Green Towers polling station only an hour after opening at six o’clock this morning.

Casey Warner

This year’s gubernatorial election in the commonwealth has received a lot of attention, as incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin takes on Attorney General Andy Beshear.

With election day fast approaching, students and professors around campus shared their thoughts on the monumental governor’s race.

In Kentucky’s last gubernatorial general election, less than 1 million of the nearly 4.5 million Kentuckians went to the polls to select their governor.

Scott Lasley, head of the Department of Political Science at WKU, had some candid comments about voter turnout across the commonwealth.

“We know it’s going to be low, around 30% give or take, and it has declined in recent years,” Lasley said.

Voter turnout will be extremely crucial in this year’s election, as a recent Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey had Bevin and Beshear at a tie. While some predict voter turnout to be sparse, others believe there is room for optimism.

Josh Knight, a WKU graduate student and public administration major who will be voting in his second gubernatorial election, thinks Kentuckians will prove doubters wrong.

“Politicians listen when we are educated and interested,” Knight said. “I think turnout will be low as usual but better in this election.”

A popular issue across campus tends to be awareness of support for education and the state’s pension crisis, the latter of which Bevin has been criticized for.

Lasley defended Bevin by speaking of his ability to tackle tough issues, even if he is unpopular among voters.

“Bevin will focus on economic issues, keeping unemployment low and having a positive impact overall economically for the state,” Lasley said.

While Bevin will push his focus more toward the economy, Beshear will look to improve issues within Kentucky’s educational system and the pension crisis.

William Henderson, a graduate student and public administration major, put it frankly when discussing issues about the commonwealth’s education system.

“Don’t make teaching undesirable,” Henderson said.

Teaching has been a huge issue in this election. Teacher “sickouts” were very common in some counties across the commonwealth this past spring, as teachers took time off to protest a bill that would negatively affect the teachers’ retirement system.

While the impact of this election will certainly be felt across the state, WKU will also be greatly affected.

English Professor Wes Berry was not short on words when asked about the impact this election will have on students.

“I’d be thrilled to see students get educated on the issues and turn out to vote in record numbers,” Berry said. “If they do, we might see a shift in this country away from leadership that makes rich people richer to one that works for the common folk.”

Berry was adamant about the impact students can have on this election, and he referred to the widely spoken-of issue on voter turnout with pessimism.

“I’ve met some politically involved students, but it appears most are little informed on the issues, and I expect voter turnout will be disappointing,” he said. “I hope students prove me wrong on this.”

Columnist Casey Warner can be reached at [email protected].