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Ignite Institute to Host NKY Legislative Campaign Debates


The Ignite Institute Political Forum at the Roebling Center of Innovation will take place October 14.

Candidates running for State House Representative and State Senate in Boone and Kenton Counties will square off in debates monitored by the student organizers, though in six of the races, half of the challengers have declined to participate. The organizers have also invited Senator Mitch McConnell (R) and his challenger, Amy McGrath (D).

“We don’t just want our students studying their subjects at Ignite, we want them to be immersed in them,” said Darin Smith, a social studies teacher at Ignite.

Smith, who previously organized a student-led debate in Boone County for District 69 in 2018, is working with the social studies department at the Ignite Institute for seven different elections. Over the course of six weeks students research regional topics, evaluate questions, and practice the format to ensure voters will have a good picture of where candidates stand on issues.

The debate participants are running to represent part or parts of Boone or Kenton counties in either the state house or state senate. Six incumbents from both parties have agreed to participate as well as three of their challengers. 

“This is a real political forum. We’re also serving the candidates who want to get their message out and the voters who want to make an informed decision,” Smith said.

The forum will start at 8:30 a.m. and each debate will last approximately an hour. Students from each college will ask questions and a student moderator will keep track of the candidates’ time to respond. In races with only one candidate participating, that candidate will have the opportunity to answer more questions from the students.

Due to COVID restrictions, the audience is restricted, but the debates will be posted. The debates will be recorded and published on the Ignite Institute YouTube page. 

“It’s important that our students have these opportunities, and it is exciting to see them rise to the occasion. Our Social Studies teachers are incredibly talented; this is really going to be a special event,” said Jerry Gels, principal of the Ignite Institute. 


8:30 a.m. - House District 63 - Rep. Kim Banta (R)

9:30 a.m. - House District 69 - Rep. Adam Koenig (R)

10:30 a.m. - House District 64 - Rep. Kim Moser (R)

11:30 a.m. - House District 66 - Rep. Ed Massey (R) and challenger Roberto Henriquez (D)

12:30 p.m. - House District 65 - Rep. Buddy Wheatley (D) and challenger Jamil Davis (R)

1:30 p.m. - Senate District 11 - Sen. John Schickel (R) and challenger Jim Fiorelli (D)

-Staff report

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