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Concord Students Get Involved in Local Politics

By Kelson Howerton
On April 11, 2018

Steven Kennedy and Jack Garwood aim to get more young voters involved in politics.
Photo Courtesy of College Republicans of Concord University

 

With West Virginia State primaries coming up in May, Mercer County has swung into election season, with campaign signs scattered across the lawns of Princeton and Athens. Among this, two students at Concord, Steven Kennedy and Jack Garwood, have gotten directly involved with the political hubbub.
 
Concord’s Student Veterans Advocate, Steven Kennedy, recently tried his hand at running for local office.
 
Fellow student veteran at Concord Eliot Pritt, who is running for House of Delegates in District 32, encouraged Kennedy to start up a campaign. Believing he could do a lot of good for the people of his home county, Kennedy agreed to run for House of Delegates in McDowell County. However, days before he was to file for candidacy, he received a call from the Secretary of State’s office notifying him that his residency here was over district lines and he would have to run in Mercer County. While he loves living in Mercer and plans to run there in the future, he believed he could help McDowell County more. “So I said, ‘Well, I just won’t run because at that point I would just be a politician,’” Kennedy said.
 
However, Kennedy quickly found other work in politics. In the early stages of his campaign, West Virginia Congressional candidate Conrad Lucas reached out to Kennedy, showing interest in his campaign. The two then struck up a working relationship, with Lucas helping guide Kennedy in his campaign and the two of them agreeing to work together  during their campaigns.
 
When Kennedy canceled his campaign, Lucas almost immediately offered Kennedy a position as the Mercer County chair of his campaign.
 
“Essentially, what I do is I ensure that his platform is being spread throughout Mercer County, ensuring that he gets here to see the people when he can,” Kennedy said. “And it’s a big county, it’s a lot of ground to cover, so between this, school, the Veterans Advocate job, and the military, I don’t have much free time,” Kennedy laughed.
 
Graduating this May, Kennedy plans to continue his political career out of college. Now that Mercer County is his new home, he plans to run for House of Delegates once more in Mercer County for the 2020 election. His hope is that through serving as a delegate in Mercer, he can help improve the state of Southern West Virginia, not just Mercer County. “West Virginia does not stop at Beckley.”
 
Jack Garwood, on top of studying political science and serving as the President of the College Republicans at Concord, has also embarked on a career in politics. While College Republicans has been involved in the U.S. Senate and state congressional races, Garwood has gotten directly involved with local politics.
 
Garwood took up a position on Conrad Lucas’s campaign as the co-chair of Students for Conrad. 
 
“He is a huge loss for the state party, because he was an excellent chairman, but I think I realized then that he would be good at maybe running for office because of his ideas,” Garwood says.
 
Garwood says Lucas’s campaign asked him to get on board soon after it was announced. “It was an honor to be asked, because it shows that they value you, and it’s just another opportunity to get myself involved in politics, and other young people involved in politics...we want to get as many young people engaged as possible, even if it is just one candidate out of one party.”
 
Believing that Democrats have a monopoly on young voters, Garwood’s aim is to get more young voters involved with Lucas’s campaign and local politics in general.
 
Also like Kennedy, Garwood aims to continue a career in American politics after he graduates, starting with Mercer County. Originally from the United Kingdom, Garwood hopes to make a home in the United States, and more specifically, West Virginia. He hopes to stay active in local politics. “I want to make life better for my friends and my family growing up here,” Garwood says.
 
Garwood is currently having his first taste of running for office through running for co-chair of the West Virginia Federation of College Republicans (WVFCR) alongside Jillian Kinder from West Virginia University. If he wins the position, he hopes to use the role to reach out to schools across the state and try to create a better link between state College Republican chapters. “I really want to get young people involved, especially young conservatives, because a lot of places where young people are, such as college campuses, they’re just very liberal-leaning, and I think [conservatives] may be afraid to say how they truly think or to come out and openly express conservative views,” Garwood said. “There’s a lot of young people with a lot of time on their hands, and they could be putting it to good use [in] fighting for causes they believe in, and I think I could help do that in a statewide position as opposed to a tiny little place in Southern WV.”
 
Once Garwood has finished going through his citizenship process, he hopes become a part of West Virginia politics.

 

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