Interview with Chris Matheny, candidate for Attorney General. His opponents are Stephen Pavey and Kelsey Queen.
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Chris Slater: What’s your SGA experience?
Chris Matheny: I have a lot of experience in SGA. I’ve been a Justice for three years, was Prime Justice for one semester, and I’ve been Chief Justice for three semesters. I’ve also served on several committees, including judicial reform, ethics, and have done a few things with SGA Affairs as well.
CS: What initially attracted you to the SGA?
CM: What I really like about our Student Government is that it’s policy-based, and you don’t see that at a lot of other places. Especially, a place like Marshall will do an “SGA Dance.” That’s what they do, they don’t actually advocate for students much, other than maybe a fundraiser here and there. We actually work with real university policies.
CS: Why did you decide to run for Attorney General?
CM: I wanted to run for Attorney General because it is a position where I can strongly advocate for students. I want to do a lot of things in that, as far as writing procedures for the University Hearing Board. I feel that’s the best position to do it from.
CS: What do you hope to accomplish if elected?
CM: Well, writing procedures for University Hearing Board [laughs]. That’s really the big one. I also want to go around to individual groups and explain the Judiciary system to them. It seems for most people, it is some enigmatic thing that is behind closed doors. Nobody really knows how it works, what happens. People get sent through it, you get a letter, they really don’t know much about it and that’s something I want to change. I figure that if people are more aware of the system, how it works, they’re less likely to run afoul of it. I’d also like to ensure that the judicial system adjudicates the cases to really educate students and really correct behavior, because all too often, we forget that the system is not punitive. It never should be punitive. That’s not how Dr. [David] Bard started it, back in the 1960’s, and that’s not how we should continue now.
CS: What are your plans if you’re not elected?
CM: My plans if I’m not elected are to write procedures for University Hearing Board [laughs]. I’ll still be a Justice and it will still be very important to me. And, while it will be somewhat inappropriate for me to go around as Chief Justice and tell groups, I feel it would be more appropriate for me to do as Chief Justice, but I would certainly advocate for the Attorney General or Public Defender to do that. Grace Hurney, or either of my opponents in the Attorney General race would be capable of doing that. Essentially, I want to do anything anyway, even if I’m not elected.
CS: What do you think of your opponents campaigns?
CM: My opponents, or the campaigns? [laughs]
CS: Either one.
CM: Well, I’m really kind of surprised this year. A lot of campaigns are really scaling it back. I think that’s a good thing. I remember back when Rocky Seay ran for President, everything was covered in paper. You just couldn’t get away from it. Now, it’s toned down. The race has been clean, that’s definitely a positive. I think my opponents are good people. Clearly, I think I’m the more qualified for the position and would do a better job, otherwise I wouldn’t be running. I think Kelsey is good, she has legal experience, which is good. But, don’t think she knows a lot about the Judiciary system at Concord, which is non-adversarial. I think Stephen Pavey, he’s a freshman, I think he can get a little more experience. But, I can see him going somewhere in SGA.
CS: What are some areas the SGA is doing well in, and where do you think they can improve?
CM: I think the SGA is doing well [long pause]. Well, it’s my experience, the SGA is either really “hit or miss” on something. They’ll either do really well working with the policy, getting it through all the appropriate committees and enacting it, or somebody will just drop the ball terribly. I think you can see that in Higher Ed. Day last year, that was just a catastrophe. A lot of the policies you see, that are going through the Board of Governors level, except for Curtis [Kearn]’s setbacks that he mentioned, are generally successful. Also, working with CUSAC, I feel that we are able to come up with a policy for off-campus jurisdiction that restricted a lot of what the administration wanted, and I feel that’s a good thing as well.
CS: I noticed you were initially on the SGA board [in the SGA Office] for Public Defender and President. Why did you drop out of those two and decide for Attorney General?
CM: Honestly, I wanted to see what names would go up there. As far as President goes, I do not want to be SGA President. I thought about that; it really takes a lot of - not that the Attorney General position wouldn’t, but it really takes a lot of time and commitment and I would never run for that position unless I truly thought I could put forth that time and effort. As far as Public Defender goes, I think Grace Hurney is a good candidate. I have a working relationship with her. She does a lot of stuff for the judicial office and she is certainly a good candidate. Although, I do hate to see Josh Lawson go, but I do think Board of Governors will be a position he will succeed in.
CS: So, you just put your name up there to see what people would say?
CM: Mhhhm Hmmm.
CS: In the Presidential race, we have two members of Tau Kappa Epsilon running. I’ve asked both Korey and Matt about this - is there any kind of divide between the TKEs, or is this a friendly campaign?
CM: I’d like to think every campaign is a friendly campaign, but that is not always the case however. I think it’s great that we have two TKEs running. And, I don’t mean to get too far into fraternity stuff here, but I’m glad we have two people that are actually qualified to run for the office in our fraternity. I think that shows a lot of our values and what we espouse. And, the leadership, obviously. I think it’s a good thing that both of them are running.
CS: I’m going to put you on the spot here - who would you rather see as President: Matt Belcher or Korey Hummer? Or, Rob Elsaid?
CM: Well, honestly, I’d have to go with Korey Hummer. I remember Korey came up to me before the elections, and said, “I’ve been thinking about this for a while, what are your thoughts on this,” and I advised him to do it. I think he’s a good candidate, he’s got some good, solid ideas. I think a lot of people tend to overlook him just because his experience was in the Judicial branch. I’ve worked with Korey Hummer for three years. He’s a great guy, a good Justice. He makes fair, right choices. And, I don’t see anybody better in that position.
CS: That looks like everything I have. Is there anything I haven’t brought up that you think students need to know?
CM: That the SGA is an advocacy organization. If it can’t advocate effectively, or does not, it will cease to be useful to students. And, so I would urge students to vote for whoever they think will advocate the strongest; who will put in the most hours for the students. Because, I think those people are the ones the student body will need in office. I also encourage students to go out to the polls, even if they’re going to vote for me or not. I think it is certainly an important part of their civic - well, as much civic duty you can really have in an SGA election. I certainly believe it’s right to reflect what the student body wants. The student body is pretty smart.
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For more information on Chris' campaign, check out the Facebook group "Chris Matheny for Attorney General."