By Clare Kolenda
A diverse crowd gathered on Thursday night in the cafeteria of Albion’s public school for a political candidate forum. In the background, the sounds of a middle school basketball game and the scent of popped popcorn clung to the air. The citizens of Albion listened carefully to the thoughts and standpoints of different political candidates as they touched on local issues, like the condition of the city’s streets and county issues such as receiving more state funding.
The forum gave both community members and candidates alike a chance to be able to have an open dialogue about the issues they felt most pressing. Candidates in attendance included contestants for city council and mayor, county commissioner and circuit court judge. Also at the forum were the candidates for the local school district board and the Kellogg Community College Trustee.
Citizens brought up questions revolving around the issues of lack of funding, poor road maintenance and decreasing the gap between upper- and lower-income residents. Yet, despite these issues, many candidates were optimistic about the future of Albion.
“I would dare to say things are looking up for us,” Mayor Joe Domingo said in an opening statement. He is running unopposed.
Andrew French is an Albion College professor and has been a sixth precinct councilmen for the past four years. A resident of Albion, he also spoke of a brighter future for the town.
“The city of Albion is at a wonderful point in its history, because we see change coming,” French said.
French also touched on his connection to Albion College as a professor in the chemistry department. He said that he and Albion College President Mauri Ditzler are hoping that through his involvement in the city council, the community and the college will create stronger ties.
Coordinators of the event estimated that around 80 people attended the event. Among them were many other familiar Albion college faculty and even a few students as well. Sharla Rider, Albion junior, came to show her support for the community.
“I’m here because I care about the community of Albion,” Rider said. “I was born and raised here and whatever is happening, I want to be a part of it.”
The presence of Albion college faculty and students in the crowd served as as a reminder of the close ties between the college and the community.
Albion College students “should care because they are a part of this community, whether they like it or not,” Rider said. “You’re here and this town is too small not to care.”
Throughout the night, many candidates spoke of opportunities for both Albion college students and residents to volunteer and become more involved within the community.
Mary Slater, Albion resident and one of the moderators of the forum , also was passionate about college students becoming more involved within the community.
“You’re a part of this community. You’re not just in your little vacuum,” Slater said.
Voting polls open this Tuesday, Nov. 4.