Campus News

Bethel freshman runs for local office, receives 41 percent of vote

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Bethel freshman Ethan Hunt is a political science major, but Hunt has done more than just study the political system. Hunt ran in Mishawaka’s 2015 election race for the District 6 County Council seat against Democrat Ron Banicki, a 12-year, three-term incumbent. “I first decided to run in October of 2014,” said Hunt. “I just wanted to try to make an impact on the community.” Hunt, who filed as a Republican candidate, faced multiple challenges as a candidate. He was 17 at the time he decided to file, but turned 18 in time to join the race as a candidate. In addition, his district had a two-thirds Democratic majority in its voter population. But this didn’t stop Hunt from running. “You have to start somewhere, and I think being local you can make a big impact and people can hold you accountable for what you do,” said Hunt. Hunt said he is officially a Republican because his beliefs and political views more closely align with the Republican party than with the Democratic party. “I’m a Republican, whatever that means to people nowadays,” said Hunt. “I’m not a big fan of political parties. I think it’s just turned into a lot of back and forth.” Hunt considers himself to be “fiscally conservative” and “very anti-abortion.” He said these issues are tied to his Christian faith. “Politics and religion are separate in some regards… (but) there is a spot where you know what your faith is and you know what’s most important,” he said. “I would never infringe on my faith just in order to gain a political edge.” Hunt’s family had various responses to his decision. “My family is very political, but we don’t talk about it much,” said Hunt. “Half of my family is Democratic and half is Republican… but they were all really supportive.” Hunt said that the differing political opinions within his own family helped him to understand politics on a deeper level. He also had a high school teacher who was running in another race at the same time. The two had lunch together every day to discuss politics. In the end, Hunt lost the race, but only by a mere 78 votes, losing to Banicki by just 17.64 percent of the vote. Hunt received some swing votes from Democrats and from students, but voter turnout was low; Hunt received 182 votes, which is 41.18 percent of the 442 total votes cast. But Hunt still hopes to make a difference in the political scene, though he says it won’t be easy. “A lot of politics is building your own career,” he explained. “The people who are in it to make a difference are often shut down by career politicians.” Hunt plans to spend the next couple of years “working on some campaigns” and speculated about a future county race. He said he is impressed with the impact that Congresswoman Jackie Walorski is making in Washington D.C. and hopes to have the opportunity to work with her. Hunt spoke of the need for voters to be informed about what the issues are and to consider what they can do about it. “There are quite a few issues,” said Hunt. “But rather than looking at what the president’s doing, start at the bottom and see what you can actually change here.” Hunt says he hopes to make that impact by “being the voice of the youth,” “leading by example" and “being a voice for the people who don’t have time to understand.” Hunt said one challenge that keeps people from being well-informed is the biases involved in politics. “It’s tough to talk about because we all know that there’s biases,” he said. “Everything that you’ll ever do is biased. I would say that politics is the most biased.” Hunt is also active at Bethel, serving on a volunteer basis as the manager of the men’s soccer team and as the underclass student council president. “Everything that I do, I take extremely seriously,” said Hunt. “I don’t want to cut anyone short.”
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