An SIU graduate student recently announced his decision to run for Carbondale’s highest board.
Blaine Tisdale, Graduate Student Professional Council president, said he saw the good a student could bring to the Carbondale City Council when he researched local government. After reading Mayor Joel Fritzler’s comment in the Daily Egyptian that students are encouraged to run for City Council, Tisdale said he decided to run.
“Students are such a big part of the community,” he said. “It really makes sense that there should be a student on the board.”
Tisdale said he was active in his high school student government and Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He said he was also a member of the Student Bar Association.
Tisdale said he was a little apprehensive about running for the board at first because he is not a life-long Carbondale resident.
Fritzler said, to the best of his knowledge, no student has ever won a City Council race. Voters would want to know if the student is vested in the community, he said.
“Has he been involved at this point? If not, it’s probably too late,” he said.
Fritzler said name recognition would also be a factor. If the public is familiar with the other candidates but not with Blaine, they may not vote for him, he said.
A history of low student voter turnout could also hurt Tisdale, Fritzler said. Whether Tisdale could get his constituents to the polls could be a major factor, and turnout could be even lower since this is not a mayoral election, he said.
Both Fritzler and Tisdale said the community would also be concerned about whether the student would remain in the city to finish out his or her term after graduation.
Peter Lucas, vice-president of GPSC, said he shared that concern. However, he said Tisdale would remain in the community.
“Unlike some students who have run in the past, he’s going to be here,” Lucas said. “That was the first question I had. ‘Well, are you going to be here for the full term?’ And he absolutely will.”
To alleviate any doubts the community may have, Tisdale said he already plans to earn another master’s degree after law school, so he will stay in the area through the term’s duration.
“I’d like to show the city of Carbondale that we as students think of Carbondale as our home,” Tisdale said.
Brooke Talley, vice president of Graduate School Affairs, said as president of GPSC Tisdale tries to implement and facilitate change to better the organization.
Lucas said Tisdale is not running just to hold office.
“He’s not running to make a statement,” Lucas said. “He’s doing it because he genuinely wants to do the most he can for the community.”