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WestStar Leadership Program co-sponsors gubernatorial forum at Nashville Public Library

02-05-2018

Contact 1: Bud Grimes

 






MARTIN, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee at Martin WestStar Leadership Program partnered with the Tennessee Press Association and other individuals and organizations to co-sponsor a gubernatorial candidate forum during the Tennessee Press Association Winter Convention on Feb. 1 at the Nashville Public Library. More than 70 current WestStar class members and alumni traveled by chartered bus to hear candidates answer questions and address issues in the race for Tennessee governor.

The non-partisan forum was open to all candidates and supported WestStar’s strategic vision to promote economic development in West Tennessee and encourage participation in the upcoming election. Participants were Democratic candidates Carl Dean and Craig Fitzhugh and Republican candidates Kay White, Bill Lee and Randy Boyd. Each offered opening statements, answered questions submitted by Tennessee Press Association member newspapers and closed the forum with final statements. Eric Barnes, publisher and CEO of The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc. in Memphis and TPA president, was the forum moderator.

Traveling with the WestStar group and attending the forum were UT Martin communications students Rikki Erwin, Ashley Shores, Emma Bruner and Holly Seng. Erwin and Shores also participate in the university’s Ned Ray McWherter Institute, a mentoring program that includes engagement and networking opportunities for selected students.

Erwin and Shores both gained important insights about the candidates and commented by email following the event. “I really enjoyed learning more about more specific beliefs and values of the candidates,” wrote Erwin, a senior from Brighton. “It (the forum) was really informative, and I especially enjoyed hearing comments on penal reform and the education goals each candidate had.”

Shores, a senior from Lebanon, was impressed by the candidates’ preparation. “They have to be prepared for any and every question that could possibly be asked, and they have to be able to take a solid stance on that issue within a given time,” she wrote. “I also thoroughly enjoyed hearing their opening statements, because it gave an insight into their lives, families and past so you can see them as more than just a political candidate asking for your vote.”

Bruner and Seng both valued the experience and see voters benefiting from this kind of campaign event. “I believe candidate forums such as this are important, because they allow candidates to conduct an open discussion that engages the public,” wrote Bruner, a junior from South Fulton. “This forum in particular allowed me to better understand what policies the candidates support and how they would run the state of Tennessee as the new governor.”

Seng, a senior from Union City, gained valuable voter knowledge through her attendance and sees the forum as a way to involve and inform younger voters. “I encourage other students and voters to either attend forums or stay informed about local and state politics because of the direct impact their (elected officials) decisions have on our lives,” Seng responded. “I definitely walked away with an interest and greater appreciation of local and state governments, an interest that will translate into my continual effort to stay informed and participate in the future.”

UT Martin Chancellor Keith Carver, also a WestStar graduate, attended the forum and later joined other Tennessee college presidents offering campus updates at the TPA luncheon and keynote address by Gov. Bill Haslam. Also attending the forum, TPA convention and lunch were Dr. Robert Nanney, UT Martin communications department chair, and student journalists from the department. Nanney, a longtime print journalism photographer, reporter and managing editor, annually takes university students to the convention. These students included Matt Herod, a junior from Jackson; Sarah Knapp, a junior from Moscow; Julia Ewoldt, a senior from Savannah; Jason Repath, a freshman from White House; and Rachel Moore, a senior from Ashland City.

The current WestStar class is the program’s 29th since WestStar was established in 1989. Thirty class participants were competitively selected by the program’s board of directors to learn new leadership skills and develop strategies to help communities solve problems and maximize potential. Participants are selected from all occupations and levels of community and regional involvement. WestStar has graduated 798 class members since the program began.

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MARTIN, Tenn., Feb. 5, 2018 – ATTEND GUBERNATORIAL FORUM – The UT Martin WestStar Leadership Program partnered with the Tennessee Press Association and other individuals and organizations to co-sponsor a gubernatorial candidate forum during the Tennessee Press Association Winter Convention on Feb. 1 at the Nashville Public Library. More than 70 current WestStar class members and alumni traveled by chartered bus to hear candidates answer questions and address issues in the race for Tennessee governor. Traveling with the WestStar group and attending the forum were UT Martin communications students Rikki Erwin, a senior from Brighton; Ashley Shores, a senior from Lebanon; Emma Bruner, a junior from South Fulton; and Holly Seng, a senior from Union City. Erwin and Shores also participate in the university’s Ned Ray McWherter Institute, a mentoring program that includes engagement and networking opportunities for selected students.

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MARTIN, Tenn., Feb. 5, 2018 – ATTEND TPA WINTER CONVENTION AND CANDIDATE FORUM – Dr. Robert Nanney (left), UT Martin communications department chair, and student journalists from the department, attended the Tennessee Press Association Winter Convention and Gubernatorial Candidate Forum on Feb. 1 at the Nashville Public Library. Nanney, a longtime print journalism photographer, reporter and managing editor, annually takes university students to the convention. Pictured with Nanney are (l to r) Matt Herod, of Jackson; Sarah Knapp, of Moscow; Julia Ewoldt, of Savannah; Jason Repath, White House; and Rachel Moore, of Ashland City.

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