By Hunter Frint
The 2016 election for City Commissioner includes a fresh face — Nathan “Nate” Morguelan, a WKU alum who is the youngest candidate in the race as he makes his debut in Bowling Green politics.
Morguelan filed on November 19 to run for a seat on the Bowling Green City Commission. The Western Kentucky University graduate works as chief videographer for a local advertising agency called Yellowberri.
Morguelan, 29, said that he wants to run to see changes that won’t happen if the same people continue to run.
“I would like to make sure that our city is taking steps in the right direction, so it’s opening a lot of doors to what the future could be, and I would like to continue to remain politically engaged, whether it’s in office or not,” said Morguelan.
The Louisville native moved to Bowling Green several years ago to pursue a psychology degree at Western Kentucky University, which he received in the winter of 2009. Morguelan’s family, including his father, mother and sister, still live in Louisville. He said he is more politically engaged than the rest of his family, who have never been involved in politics.
Morguelan made an impression on his professors as a psychology major. Morguelan’s former professor Leslie Plumlee supports Morguelan’s pursuit for a seat in city politics.
“He is easily capable of understanding the types of issues the Commission deals with, and my sense is that he gets along well with people and would form good working relationships,” Plumlee said. “As a former city employee, I am fairly familiar with the workings of the City Commission; I think he could bring a fresh perspective to a body that is typically composed of older people.”
Morguelan became involved with Yellowberri after graduation through a friend who was already working there. Through his work and clients he has formed connections with, Morguelan said he feels connected to the community of Bowling Green. Morguelan said he fell in love with his work and the people at Yellowberri.
“These aren’t just people I work with,” said Morguelan. “These are people I get in huge arguments with and still can, you know, survive and push on. The job is what I like. It’s always changing. It’s never the same. Every time you get a new client you really never know what you’re going to be producing.”
Morguelan first ventured into city politics when he proposed a new Bowling Green flag. The green, blue, gray and gold design flies in front of his house on Kenton Street, where he lives with two roommates and his dog, Iroh. The new design has been promoted in the past through a Facebook page, followed by several Bowling Green residents, and a promotional video made by Morguelan.
“The city flag is a very interesting thing,” said Morguelan. “I made a great little video and showed it to them and the commission was impressed, but getting them to do anything is incredibly hard.”
Morguelan said that the new flag design is something that he will continue to push whether or not he gets elected because he believes it is an easy thing that will make a big difference once established.
Some of the other issues that Morguelan said he would like to see addressed by the City Commission are the Fairness Ordinance, street and sidewalk confusion and improved renters’ rights.
The fairness ordinance is something that has been brought to the City Commission’s attention several times by the Bowling Green Fairness Campaign. If passed this would make it illegal to fire someone from their job or kick them out of a place of business because they identify with the LGBT community. Stephanie Menser, a volunteer with the Fairness Campaign, said that it has been disheartening because they do not feel as if they are asking for something extreme.
“Unfortunately our city commission has kind of disregarded all our efforts,” said Menser. “They haven’t really admitted us whatsoever, even though we’ve attended the meetings and lately our team has been asking for support from the city commission and we haven’t really gotten far, but we plan to keep going.”
Morguelan stands behind the Fairness Campaign. He said he would like for it to be brought up in front of the City Commission, but does not think that currently it is going to make progress with the commissioners.
“No one will sponsor it to bring it to a vote and if they did none of them would vote for it, except for whoever was strange enough, in a good way, to sponsor it,” said Morguelan.
He said that he would like to clean up the sidewalks, get some more bike lanes installed and fix one-way streets where traffic is bad. Issues that Morguelan sees with renters’ rights in Bowling Green are also something he would like to address. Morguelan said he is not sure of the scope of what he can do, but will do what he can to make these things happen if he is elected.
While others might see Morguelan’s youth as a weakness, he said he sees it as a positive attribute for a potential city commissioner. He said that younger people should be involved with politics– as should people who live downtown, like him.
“I’ve been going out and doing things because I have some time to be able to do it, and I have the energy to do more than I believe everybody on the current commission,” said Morguelan.
Morguelan said that he thinks he will do an excellent job and that Bowling Green will be able to look at him favorably.
“There is a certain sense of pride I have for the town because of how great it is,” said Morguelan.