Sophomore still in commission race

Shawntaye Hopkins

Two Western students – roommates from Dowgiac, Mich. – announced last fall they were candidates for the Bowling Green City Commission.

Their names are both still on the ballot.

But that’s about the only thing that hasn’t changed in the past few days.

A story in Tuesday’s Herald reported that Nicholas Clark, a sophomore, had decided to withdraw from the race.

That’s what Samantha Davis, the campaign manager for both candidates, said after she received an e-mail on Feb. 15 from freshman Joseph Southworth, the other student candidate and Clark’s roommate, stating that Clark was dropping out of the race.

But Clark said Tuesday that even though he had discussed withdrawing he had changed his mind and decided to stay in.

Davis, a Morehead senior, said she is no longer working with either of the men as their campaign manager. Davis said the move was a mutual decision made on Tuesday during a phone conversation.

“I wish them every success and I hope they do well,” Davis said. “It’s just that I will no longer be participating in the campaign.”

A group of about five students in the political science department were serving as the primary staff for the men, said Saundra Ardrey, head of the political science department.

Both men said they will no longer work with the political science department.

Ardrey did not know on Tuesday whether the group was still participating in the campaign.

“In order to run an effective campaign there has to be a level of trust between the campaign manager, staff and the candidate, and I suspect that that relationship is in doubt,” she said.

Southworth said he asked Davis to be his campaign manager.

But Clark said the appointments of Davis and other students to the campaign were made at a Feb. 13 meeting before he agreed to them.

Davis said both men wanted her as their campaign manager.

“We came to the agreement that everyone would come through me,” she said about information being provided to media organizations. “Then I would distribute to the appropriate parties and we would go from there.”

Herald reporter Joshua Coffman, who attended the Feb. 13 meeting, also said there was an agreement between the candidates and the campaign staff that media questions would first go through Davis.

Coffman said he had attempted to contact Clark last week and on Monday about the information Davis had given him, but had been unsuccessful in reaching him. Clark said the only message he received from Coffman was on Monday.

The e-mail sent to Davis from Southworth on Feb. 15 stating that Clark would be dropping out of the race was the last information Davis and Ardrey received from the candidates until Tuesday.

“Typically, what happens in a campaign when you make a decision like that, you let the campaign manager know or you let your staff know so it looks like there’s unity in the campaign,” Ardrey said.

Davis and Southworth had scheduled a meeting for Feb. 17, Davis said. It didn’t happen because of confusion as to the meeting’s time.

It was suggested at a meeting on Feb. 13 that one of the two men leave the race because it would be easier to get the other candidate the general ballot, Davis said.

She said Southworth and Clark were told to consider the suggestion over the following weekend.

Clark said they were immediately told at the beginning of the meeting that one of two had to drop out.

The men said they changed their minds about who would run – or if they both would continue to run – several times.

“We both wanted to still run, but we felt pressured that one of us had to drop out to even have a chance,” Southworth said.

He said it was a mistake to send the e-mail speaking for Clark.

Now the two men are looking forward to the primary election in May.

“We’re starting from the ground up yet again and I’m going to get people who agree more with the issues,” Clark said.

Southworth said he will only hire people to help him with his campaign, but they will not speak for him.

He said he wants to help young people see that they can make a difference.

“Our goal is to get every student at Western registered to vote,” Clark said.

Southworth said his main objective is to be sure young people are represented in the economy. Students have to be registered to vote in order for that to happen, he said.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]