Wiley College students had a chance this week to meet and speak with state senate and congressional candidates as part of the nonprofit group Build East Texas’ college campus tour.

Build East Texas is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization formed this spring that invited all of the candidates for Texas’ Congressional District 1 and Senate seats currently filled by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Rep Louie Gohmert to speak on the five college campus tour that wrapped up with visits to Kilgore College, the University of Texas at Tyler, Angelina College and Stephen F. Austin University on Thursday.

The five campus, one day tour for the seven candidates came about as a way to allow area college students to meet and get to know the positions of those candidates running to represent them in Washington D.C.

While Gohmert and Cornyn were both invited, neither participated in the campus tour on Thursday.

The candidates, made up of one Republican and six Democrats, spoke on Thursday to the students, staff and faculty of Wiley College about the importance of fiscal responsibility from public servant politicians, the U.S. government’s growing debt, support for the Green New Deal, Medicare for all and free college tuition, as well as their disappointment with U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration.

The candidates all spoke of how though they may disagree among themselves about smaller issues or how policies should be carried out, they all agreed that a change in representation is needed in Washington D.C. and they would each be an agent of that needed change if elected. Candidates included: State Senator Royce West, Mark Yancey, Chris Bell, Sema Hernandez, Cristina Zintzun Ramirez, Michael Cooper and Adrian Ocegueda, who are all challenging Cornyn for his U.S. Senate seat.

Candidate Hank Gilbert who is challenging Gohmert for his U.S. Rep. seat was also present on Thursday’s tour.

Founding Board Member and Secretary of Build East Texas Brent Beal said that the tour, which includes a time for students to meet for face to face discussion with the candidates, was much needed to bring home the importance of specific issues relevant to East Texans.

“We scheduled the tour during the recess so anyone could come,” Beal said. “It’s important to get out from behind the labels and focus on the issues important to East Texans and rural communities. This event is a way for students to have access to the process and for students to ask questions of the candidates.”

For more information, see Build East Texas’s website: .