The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Nonpartisan event introduces students to local government leaders

February 12, 2020 | Dang Le | editor-in-chief
uVote 2020
Government officials gather to answer questions about the importance of local government and voter participation from younger community members at uVote 2020 at the Walsh Library on NW Campus. Photo by Photos by Brooke Baldwin/The Collegian

uVote 2020 showed students that having the power to decide who gets to help run a community is within their reach through voting locally and becoming familiar with their leaders and their roles.

“One goal at TCC is to prepare students to be world-ready,” NW student and event coordinator Elizabeth Everett said. “They are preparing students to become responsible citizens and leaders in our community.”

Younger community members who may not be familiar with the functions of their local governments had the opportunity Feb. 6 to hear from their local officials at Walsh Library on NW Campus. This nonpartisan event featured representation of the city, district and county level elected officials from the area.

Because it is an election year, Everett said, and the conversations across the nation are very politically charged. This event invites everyone from all political walks of life to join in the conversation and become informed in a safe and politically neutral environment.

“We need to remember to be respectful of others’ thoughts, opinions and experiences as we try to learn more from various perspectives,” Everett said.

Five panelists from different positions in the local government explained what they do to help run local communities. NW SGA secretary Savannah Crawford introduced Tarrant County tax assessor and collector Wendy Burgess, who serves the entire Tarrant County area.

“I work for you. You are my boss,” Burgess said.

Panelists speak about their start in politics and their inspiration for serving their communities. Photo by Brooke Baldwin

A city council member, a mayor, a federal judge and a sheriff’s chief were on hand to explain to the audience as to what their functions are. Burleson Mayor Ken Shetter said he doesn’t remember a time when he wasn’t interested in public service. His position as mayor is a non-partisan one.

“I didn’t start with an ambition in local government,” he said. “I thought this would just be a good place to start.” After 20 years, he remains involved in local government.

He reminded the younger audience members that turning out on election day is crucial because they have much more at stake than the older citizens who turn out in much larger numbers.

“It’s a tragedy that younger people don’t vote,” Shetter said. “They will have more years left in the community than anybody else.”

213th precinct judge Christopher Wolfe said he is disappointed in partisan politics.

Chief Roy Kurban reminded students that the law is what it is, and should be followed to the letter.

“The Constitution is not partisan,” Kurban said.

Wolfe agreed that bringing politics into the courtroom isn’t ideal.

“It really shouldn’t be that way,” Wolfe said. “There’s been a push in the Texas legislature every so often trying to shift from partisan judge elections to an appointment process. However, here we are.”

Wolfe said he hopes that anyone who enters his courtroom would not be able to tell what political party he affiliated with, but rather he hopes they view him as a fair judge.

The second uVote event will be held at the Walsh Library on NW Campus on Feb. 19 to continue the conversation on becoming an informed citizen.

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