Charles Melancon (D-LA) and Steven Kuykendall (R-CA), former members of the U.S. House of Representatives, will visit St. Bonaventure University April 3-4 as part of the Congress to Campus program.
The #CongresstoCampus duo will visit classes, be available for media interviews, and present a public forum on the hostile partisan disagreements in Washington. They will also join students in discussions on immigration reform in Model Senate, a component of Dr. Bart Lambert’s political science course on Congress that will include a role-playing simulation of the legislative process.
This is the second year St. Bonaventure has partnered with the Congress to Campus program, which brings together former members of Congress and today’s youth to increase civic literacy and participation.
The community forum will take place at 4 p.m. Monday, April 3, in the Rigas Family Theater of The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. The former Congressmen will discuss “What Explains the Discord in Washington and What Can Be Done to Restore Bipartisan Cooperation?” The event is free and open to the public, but tickets should be reserved by calling the Quick Center Box Office at (716) 375-2494.
Melancon and Kuykendall will also lead a lunchtime forum for university students, faculty and staff at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 4, in the University Club. Lunch is $3 for those without an SBU meal plan. The pair, who both have been involved with conservation organizations, will lead a discussion on “How Should States and Communities Respond to Cutbacks in Federal Environmental Protection?” Advance registration is appreciated by going to www.sbu.edu/CongresstoCampus.
Melancon, a native of Louisiana, won a special election in 1987 in District 60 for the Louisiana House of Representatives for Assumption, Iberville, and West Baton Rouge parishes, which he served until 1993.
From 2005 to 2011, Melancon was the Representative for Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Melancon served on the Committee on Energy and Commerce; the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet; and the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.
Soon after being sworn in, Melancon joined the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of congressional representatives who identify as conservative Democrats. Like many Southern Democrats, he is more conservative than most members of the national party, especially on social issues; however, he did vote for the DREAM Act and repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Several months after Melancon took office, Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, causing massive levee failures and devastating flooding in the eastern part of his district. A second major storm, Hurricane Rita, struck the Gulf Coast three weeks later. Melancon worked with the rest of the Louisiana delegation in Congress to bring billions of recovery dollars to south Louisiana. He fought for federal funding for hurricane protection projects such as Morganza-to-the-Gulf and the levee systems in lower Plaquemines Parish and south Lafourche Parish.
In 2010, he was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat held by the retiring Republican David Vitter.
Kuykendall served in the United States House of Representatives from 1999 to 2001, representing California’s 36th Congressional District. Kuykendall served on the Armed Services; Science; and Transportation and Infrastructure committees of the House.
In his first year in Congress, Kuykendall helped craft a plan to pay down the national debt while still providing a tax cut and protecting Social Security. He secured funds to help clean up Santa Monica Bay and dredge the Marina del Rey Harbor entrance. Kuykendall also authored a provision in the defense authorization bill that allowed active duty military bases to swap surplus land for new structures on the sites they retain, making them better stewards of their assets.
Before his election to Congress, Kuykendall served two terms in the California State Assembly, from 1994 to 1998. During his first term in the state legislature, he served as Republican whip. He also served on the Banking and Finance, Labor and Employment, Higher Education, and Utilities and Commerce committees.
Kuykendall began his public service as councilman and mayor of Rancho Palos Verdes. He has also served as president and trustee of the Peninsula Education Foundation, trustee of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, chair of the Palos Verdes Regional Law Enforcement Committee and vice chair of the Los Angeles County Emergency Preparedness Commission.
Commissioned as a Marine Corps second lieutenant in 1968, Kuykendall served two tours of duty in Vietnam, participating in the effort to stop the North Vietnamese Easter Offensive in 1972. He rose to the rank of captain and retired in 1973 after a permanent shoulder injury.
Kuykendall became a businessman, working in the commercial and mortgage-banking field from 1973 until 1994. During that time, he founded and served as president of Lockheed Mortgage Corporation, a subsidiary of Lockheed Corporation. He was also a principal with David Buxton Financial Corporation from 1984-1994. Since leaving Congress, he is engaged in local, state and federal government relations and management consulting as proprietor of Steven T. Kuykendall & Associates. In 2013, he became the volunteer president and CEO of Fisher House Southern California, a nonprofit dedicated to raising funds for the construction of a Fisher House on the Long Beach Veterans Administration Medical Center campus.
Kuykendall holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Oklahoma City University and an MBA from San Diego State University. He lives in Long Beach, Calif.
The aim of the Congress to Campus program is to enhance students’ understanding of civic responsibility and public service though the personal experiences of the former members with the hopes that students will be inspired to engage in the democratic process.
For additional information about St. Bonaventure’s Congress to Campus program, contact the campus coordinator, Dr. Bart Lambert of the Department of Political Science, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.sbu.edu/CongresstoCampus.
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