WKU alumna runs for district 32 senate

SarahBeth Davis

Alumna Jeanie Smith announced her campaign for the Kentucky Senate on the steps of Cherry Hall on Oct. 9.

“I am a Hilltopper,” Smith said. “I spent a lot of time on these steps. I was excited when I was here as a student, and I’m excited now, and I want people to join in this campaign with me.”

John Wesley, Smith’s former pastor from First Christian Church, gave the introduction for her speech. He has known her for seven years, and in that time has seen her be involved in Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. He encouraged her involvement in politics.

“[Smith]’s had a growing concern, as many of us have, that government legislation has been slanted against those who have little voice to speak,” Wesley said.

Wesley said she was pleased with the amount of younger people present who had gathered to hear her announcement, noting the need for them to be more involved in politics.

Approximately 80 people, both WKU students and members of the Bowling Green community were present for her campaign announcement.

Among them was Campbellsville sophomore Robert Bright, a supporter of Smith. He said he was optimistic about her winning the race and the excitement the crowd held for her would carry on to the election, which is held in Nov. 2018.

“I feel like Jeanie is the embodiment of young democratic values,” Bright said. “She challenges the idea that liberal is a dirty word.”

Smith graduated from WKU in 2005, having majored in history and social studies. She went on to teach social studies in the Warren County school district. She said she saw the difficulties she saw the students and their families face as a motivator for her to run.

“We have a real problem with poverty,” Smith said. “I see students who are homeless, families where parents are working multiple jobs just to try and make ends meet, and wages that have stagnated.”

She proposed increasing wages, providing access to training programs, and creating a more fair tax structure as means of improvement. She said she is in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy, which she mentioned in her announcement speech.

Smith said one issue that pushed her to run as well as the bill which allowed charter schools to operate in Kentucky. She expressed disappointment in current district 32 senator Mike Wilson for his support of it.

Smith will be in Van Meter Hall on Oct. 18 to hear from students.

“I am really excited that this is a people’s campaign and I hope to be listening to people all around the county. I’ll be here on campus, and I look forward to meeting students and hearing what they have to say.”