KSU student runs for City Council as write-in

Kimberly Dick

Justin Jeffery, junior English major and president of Kent Interhall Council, will run for Kent City Council in November. If elected, Jeffery hopes to bridge the gap between the university and the city.

Credit: Jason Hall

Justin Jeffery attended his first Kent City Council meeting Wednesday, after filing for write-in council candidacy.

“I’ve done a lot of research. I’ve been reading the minutes of the meetings. I’m not going into this clueless,” Jeffery said laughing. “We wanted to keep the candidacy a little laid low just because we don’t want the city to freak out that a student is running because who knows what could happen from there.”

Jeffery, junior English major and president of Kent Interhall Council, is a candidate because he wants to further bridge the gap between the city and the students. He stressed he didn’t want people to think he is running to get back at the city.

Undergraduate Student Senate informed Jeffery of the open Ward 4 position in Kent City Council, and is supporting him in pursuit of furthering their “Kent State Student = Kent City Citizen” campaign.

“Justin is a write-in candidate,” said Bill Ross, executive director of USS. “It is not a last minute thing, but something that we had to move quickly on. City Council is very much like the organization he is president of.”

Ward 4 is primarily student housing, with about three or four streets of residential housing, Jeffery said.

“I think my big goal is to make sure that my ward is on the same page on issues such as noise violations. So I could go to City Council and represent the ward as a whole.”

Jeffery said finding a middle-ground for the students and residents to cooperate is a main issue he expects to deal with.

Kathleen Guckelberger, the councilwoman for Ward 4 who was appointed last year, is not running for the position again. She said there have been few problems brought to her attention between the students and the families in this area.

“It could be a great connection between the university and the city,” Kent Mayor John Fender said.

The number of students in this ward is what Jeffery said he hopes help him beat the two Glad Boulevard residents opposing him.

“As a student on City Council, I think that being in direct contact to student needs and what their concerns might be would give me leverage,” he said.

If elected Jeffery would serve a two-year term that coincides with finishing his degree.

“The term will run seven months longer than my time at the university, but I plan on starting my graduate work here,” he said.

General elections will be held Nov. 8, and USS has already started a voter registration campaign.

“The fact that we are running a student in Ward 4, it will be especially important for those students to register to vote,” Ross said. “But we want all students to register to vote here because you live here four, five, six years, and there are a lot of things on the ballot locally that affect students directly.”

USS is supporting a student in this election because it is important to have representation of the students at the city level.

“With Justin, his time management and leadership skills are great, and he knows a lot about the residence halls and a lot about the areas around them,” Ross said. “I don’t think it necessarily takes a certain skill to be a City Council member. This isn’t New York City or Cleveland. I think, being a leader in Kent Interhall Council, he probably has more experience and actual people skills than the City Council members do.”

In addition to finishing his degree, Jeffery is hoping to manage KIC and City Council.

“I have a lot of energy. I would like to assume that I would be as available as the other councilmen,” he said. “I do have a commitment to KIC, and I had this position first.”

Ross said Kent City disregards some of the student opinions, and Jeffery could change that.

“We are in a city where the concerns of students are ignored, where the city takes us for granted, wants us to spend our money, but not be seen or heard,” he said. “We have a member of the student body willing to step up and serve the concerns of the students and the people of Ward 4.”

Contact pubic affairs reporter Kimberly Dick at [email protected].