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ASUA presidential candidates agree debate fails to do justice to issues

By Erin Mahoney
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 26, 1999
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ASUA presidential candidates last night squared off in debate, but both came away unsatisfied.

University Activities Board President Caitlein Ryan and Cisco Aguilar, Associated Students' executive vice president, presented their viewpoints to about 40 students in the Memorial Student Union's Tucson room.

But, Ryan said the event did not fulfill its purpose of reaching out to undecided voters.

"In this debate, I've learned one thing - perhaps this isn't the best forum," Ryan said. "The people in this room already decided their vote."

Aguilar said the debate "was more like a forum," and he would have liked to discuss "hotter issues."

"I would like to see a little more controversy," Aguilar said. "It makes elections a little more exciting."

Candidates touched briefly on issues like University of Arizona parking difficulties, childcare funding, Associated Students Bookstore policies and university tuition increases.

ASUA Elections Commissioner Anthony Hill said the debate went "well," but candidates' overly pleasant exchanges may have hindered the event.

"You don't get to the issues by making niceties to each other," Hill said. "This one (debate) was kind of glossing over everything."

Both candidates discussed changes to be made within ASUA. Ryan told audience members that changes need to come from outside the organization's system.

"People are crying out for a rebel," she said. "The job of (ASUA) is to represent students. My God, you guys, this has not been done."

Aguilar countered that he has the experience to combat student apathy.

"I'm the first to admit ASUA has problems," he said. "We are a car with a flat tire...all four tires are flat. And there's no spare. We need to find a spare."

Ryan said she would like to talk more with a "variety" of students and work with past presidents in developing "systems that stick around."

Aguilar said he would increase Senate accountability by making senators responsible to individual parts of the UA community.

ASUA Sen. Ben Graff, running unopposed for executive vice president, asked the candidates how they would split their time between administrative committees and handling students' issues.

"We need to broaden the scope so students feel more a part of the university," Aguilar said.

Ryan said she would involve a variety of students in committees "instead of the same student leaders who get involved year after year."

One of the panelists, ASUA Sen. Josue Limon, expressed dissatisfaction at one point with the candidates' responses to questions.

"I'm going to be like most students and say 'I'm tired of broad answers,'" Limon said.

Limon had to restate his question, pertaining the structure of Multicultural Programs and Services, two times because he said the candidates offered inadequate answers.

Aguilar said, if elected, he will "step in" and secure an applicant pool for the position of multicultural program director.

"I've been affected by this," he said. "We need to get a structure going."

Ryan said she would use her presidential resources to contact potential leaders.

"As student body president, you get a lot of responses," she said.

Ryan and Aguilar also discussed issues of student apathy and retention rates.

ASUA President Tara Taylor said both candidates did "a very good job," but "I would have liked to see more definition."

Taylor said a candidate's involvement or lack thereof is irrelevant to improving ASUA.

"It's a toss up," Taylor said. "It takes someone who's passionate about the position."