Students hobnob with legislators

COLUMBUS – Almost 20 students from area schools made the trip to Columbus Wednesday to meet several state legislators.

David Koehl, chairman of the Seneca County Republican Central Committee, organized the annual student trip, in its sixth year.

The trip is great for students to get a chance to meet office holders and talk directly to them, Koehl said.

Students from Mohawk, Seneca East and Tiffin Columbian high schools, North Central Academy and Terra State Community College met with Karen Gillmor of the Ohio Industrial Commission; Brandon Kern, director of state policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; Reps. Rex Damschroder, R-Fremont, and Jeff McClain, R-Upper Sandusky; Auditor Dave Yost; Justice Judith French; Ohio Senate President Keith Faber; Sen. Dave Burke, R-Marysville; and Matt Borges, chairman-elect of the Ohio Republican Party.

This was the first trip to visit legislators for Seth Martin, a sophomore from Seneca East. He in interested in a political or international diplomacy career once he graduates, he said.

“The trip for me is to learn about the workings of our state government,” Martin said Wednesday.

“It’s exciting to see and learn more about the government and meet the people and become familiar with what they do,” Morgan Coffman, freshman from Seneca East, said.

Senior Tyler Krupp made the trip to Columbus last year.

“While in Columbus last year, we toured the State House, sat in on a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing where we got to see an exotic animals bill get passed through committee,” Krupp said. ” We also sat in on a Senate session where we saw the same bill get passed through the whole Senate.”

Krupp said the trip last year changed his plans, he said, “I had planned on getting a minor in business while majoring in chemical engineering at Ohio State next year, but now I am planning on minoring in political science because I have become so interested in the field.”

Ryan Somers, a freshmen at Terra, also went on the trip last year. He is studying business and hopes his degree will get him a foot in the door of a political career.

“Overall, the trip (in 2011) was overwhelming seeing how our government works and being able to see our governor,” Somers said. “Seeing Gov. Kasich sign the bill was incredible, and being able to ask questions about the bills going through the House is important as students to see what we can do to improve and get involved in the state government as officials.”

Students were encouraged to ask questions on topics such as the budget, taxes and unemployment, how to win an election, background on the office-holders’ careers and campaigning.

“My favorite part of the trip (last year) was touring the Ohio Supreme Court. Justice Robert Cupp provided probably the best tour I have ever been on,” Krupp said. “He took us all throughout the Supreme Court, even allowing us to sit in the justices chairs and taking us through ‘secret passageways’ to their deliberation rooms. We got to see nearly every aspect of the Supreme Court during that tour, places most people can’t get to.”

“(The trip) is good for the students, but also good for the office holders,” Koehl said. “Not many times do office holders get to interact with student groups and individuals that may be running for offices in the next few years.”