Professor runs for city council
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2012 17:09
Arkansas State students have a unique opportunity to get involved with local politics this fall. Dr. Richard Wang, the former department head of the political science department, is running in an open, citywide election for city council against incumbent Michael Fears.
Involvement in government has been a life long passion for Wang, who thinks that the student vote could be decisive in the election this November.
Dr. Wang’s passion for political discourse brought him from his birthplace in New York State to Detroit, where he received his masters in public administration and his doctorate in political science. He found a home at Arkansas State University professionally 25 years ago, where he teaches classes in political science, focusing on state and local government.
The political environment of the 1970s was significantly different than the one in which we live now. Dr. Wang, like many of his peers, was concerned about United States police action in Vietnam. Wang, in a recent interview, described the political atmosphere of the day.
“We were in harms way, all of us,” Wang recalled. “And it created such passion among the youth.”
The draft was a reality for many young men in Wang’s class, something that seems hardly imaginable to students attending ASU today. The passion it created gave rise to many political movements, and the youth became a key voting demographic for the Democratic Party.
This passion was what found Wang hitchhiking from New York to Miami for the 1972 Democratic National Convention. Dr. Wang said experiences like that helped him develop a critical lens in which to view policy decisions and the government in general.
Wang elaborated on his vision for the community of Jonesboro, and how government policy today is as relevant to students today as it was during the Vietnam conflict. Much of the city council work is related to the zoning and rezoning of land, a task that takes considerable consideration on the part of the individual councilman. Wang stressed how important attending third party analysis is in the process, and pledged to be in attendance at all meetings, as well as being an active participant in the discourse.
He also made clear that this campaign wasn’t separating itself from partisanship to be in accordance with state law. The preference for Dr. Wang is an independent approach, one where thoughtful discussion can take place without homogenizing policy options with party politics.
Wang emphasized the importance of student involvement in the political process. He was clear on the role of a city councilman, “A voice of the people, it’s just to represent the people,” but in order to be adequately represented, that voice must be informed and audible.
Voter registration ends on Oct. 6.