Geoff Young brings foreign policy debate to BCTCS

Matt Smith

War, U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East are not heavily debated topics around UK, or issues that hold significance with students.

But a self-described expert on military affairs, who has also been a frequent candidate for public office, is seeking to change that.

Geoff Young, a Lexington resident and political activist, has organized a debate on foreign policy, war and peace on Friday, Sept. 30 at the Bluegrass Community and Technical College on Cooper Drive. There are currently four confirmed participants, with each representing the views of their political party and its presidential nominee: Democrat Jason Belcher, Republican T.J. Litafik, Libertarian Ken Moellman and Bernadene Zennie of the Green Party. 

All are political activists within their respective parties. Litafik is a former executive adviser within Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration, who departed from state government in June without an explanation, according to reporting from the Lexington Herald Leader.

Senator Rand Paul and his democratic challenger, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, have also been invited. Both Congressman Andy Barr and his challenger, Democrat Nancy Jo Kemper, turned down invitations to participate. Young claimed that Kemper, who defeated him in the Democratic Primary for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, originally signed on to the debate, but backed out upon realizing that Congressman Barr would not be participating.

Young felt the need to hold this panel, largely due to the lack of coverage that these issues get in the mainstream media.

“I found that our media corporations, including KET, simply don’t ask questions about these issues,” Young said. “They don’t ask fundamental questions about these things. These are extremely important issues, that get almost no attention.”

The debate will be moderated by Dr. Michael Benton, who will also serve as a timekeeper. Each panelist will receive three to four minutes to answer each question, with the questions being “open-ended, simple, and fundamental,” according to Young.

Some debate topics, which have been listed on the event’s official Facebook page, include the U.S. defense budget, conflicts in Syria and Libya and the decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003.

The debate is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Oswald Building at BCTC. Other sponsors include the Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice, and the BCTC Students for Peace and Earth Justice.

As noted above, Young has made multiple bids for public office, with foreign policy issues having a prominent place in his platform. After running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District in the last two cycles, Young plans on running for a spot in the House of Representatives.

“It is very likely that I will be running for the U.S. House in 2018,” Young said.