From competing for UMHB student body president in Spring 2009 to now the real deal, alumni Garrett Smith and Tommy Wilson are using their political savvy to work together and promote local Republican candidate, Wes Riddle.
Riddle is campaigning to be the U.S. representative for district 25 in Congress. The former college professor, small business owner and military man is now taking on politics.
When Riddle first began his campaign bid in July, he was looking for about several volunteers.
However, his problem throughout was that people kept quitting. Riddle believed that Smith was a godsend because he arrived just when the former volunteer coordinator left.
Wilson entered campaign work based on a recommendation from his former student body president competitor, Smith. Because there was so much work to be done for just one person, Riddle hired Wilson to be a field representative based on Smith’s advice. He was impressed with the alumni’s knowledge of politics and thankful for their hard work.
He said, “The two of them together have done more in the few months they’ve been here than others have been able to do in the period of six months or more. If they are in any way a representation of UMHB, it speaks very highly of that institution.”
Because of Smith’s and Wilson’s efforts, what seemed an impossible task to make Riddle an official candidate became possible. It was assumed that Riddle would not have enough signatures to enter the race, but the former students and several others proved that notion wrong.
Smith said, “We’ve been surprising people the whole way. The Republican Party was just astonished … We’re by far taking the lead on grass roots ground game.”
There are several reasons why Smith firmly stands by the candidate. Smith said he is a strong believer in Christ and is not afraid to voice his concerns. And is not the stereotypical politician who beats around the bush.
Wilson said, “That’s what I love about Wes. He will never back down or apologize for his views … We’ve seen his plan. We can offer answers.”
For students who question whether their vote truly does make an impact or find no reason for to vote, Wilson offers a perspective.
“If we’re not in those discussions, if we’re not in that process of making those rules … by talking to our representative … these decisions will be made without our input.”
Wilson suggests a great way for students to start is by voicing their beliefs and opinions through the university’s student government.
He said, “We have a great place at UMHB. But (students) need to start speaking about those values, their ambitions, their desires for their country … We have to be vocal; we have to speak what we feel inside.”
Smith insists students should start sharing Christ now.
He said, “It’s here, it’s free and just as important. If we lose the freedom to promote the Lord in our own United States, then how are we going to be able to send people to other nations?”
He also considers the political arena as his calling to share the gospel.
“It is just as much of a mission field as any other country. If there is any place that corruption is rampant, it’s in our own government. This is my own mission field,” he said.