Arizona Daily Wildcat ASUA candidate endorsments
This year's ASUA election turnout was remarkably different from last year's grim selection. While last year's race presented two unopposed executive positions, last week's primary election proved actually necessary. Does this mean interest in student government has increased? Will the increased competition give birth to increased performance among our victors? Let's hope so. To give some meaning to the list of names on the ballot, the Wildcat Opinions Board interviewed the ASUA candidates with results that were pleasantly surprising, sometimes disturbing and always entertaining.
Here's the scoop:
For the office of ASUA President
Ben Graff is not afraid to admit that he's been involved in ASUA for quite awhile. In fact, he's made it one of his campaign platforms. He is an unapologetic college career politician.
And while we are all waiting to see if he can walk the walk, it's clear he can do the talking. Graff is poised, poignant and not afraid to play hardball. And that is why he's the best candidate for ASUA president.
Student government - particularly from the president's position - has only a few avenues of power. As disheartening as it may be sometimes, ASUA serves primarily as a lobbying force for students.
Graff has made it clear in his campaign that he is committed to tackling student issues on the state, regent and administration levels. He will make for a powerful voice with the knowledge of the issues to argue the students' interests effectively.
He has also dodged the all too common mistake of taking on a foolish plan for his term. His major promise this semester is keeping tuition at a reasonable rate. This is something the University of Arizona has committed to, but Likins recently hinted at the possibility of an increase. The majority of the student body would probably not argue that low tuition/low student loan strategy is superior. And best of all, he has specific tuition guidelines he says he will enforce as president.
Unfortunately, Graff has not lived up to all of his promises in the past. Last year, as an executive vice president candidate, he impressed the Wildcat Opinions Board with a plan to require student feedback before all proposals go to the Senate. While Graff says student polling has increased, the plan just never happened.
If Graff lives up to his promises and carries his campaign charisma on to office, he'll make a solid president.
For the office of ASUA Executive Vice President
Erick Negri is the better of the two candidates for the office of ASUA executive vice-president because he has solid ideas on how to give students a louder voice in ASUA.
One of Negri's ideas is to create Cat Talk, an online forum for students to express their concerns about the university. It can't be said for certain whether students will take advantage of this, but Negri recognizes that members of the UA community are simply not going to walk into ASUA and sit down to discuss their concerns.
More importantly, though, is Negri's desire to have college deans and faculty members participate so the administration will be hearing the gripes and ideas.
Negri, who possesses the poise, confidence, and listening abilities necessary for the office, also wants to implement VIC - Voicing Issues of Clubs - forums. During these monthly meetings, members from different UA organizations would be able to directly address ASUA members.
Negri wants to let club members - not the ASUA Appropriations Board - set funding levels. Although this may prove too difficult to accomplish, he understands the need for student input into the funding process.
Another solid idea presented by Negri is increasing ASUA accountability, which he would do by posting each senator's goals on a Web site, so students could determine for themselves if they accomplished what they set out to do.
For the office of ASUA Administrative Vice President
Neither of the administrative vice presidential candidates' platforms strays too far from the other. But there is one definitive element that only Podbielski would bring to the office - passion.
Podbielski wants to make sure that ASUA programs continue to serve students properly next year, and she feels she can do that most efficiently as a business manager.
But Podbielski says that she will be more than just a manager. She will work closely with the ASUA senate as a resource for ideas.
Podbielski, who foots a strong ASUA Escort Service proposal, has started work on as a senator and will expand upon as administrative vice president.
Unlike her opponent, Podbielski has dealt first hand with the Escort Service as an employee. She understands the dilemmas and financial constraints the service faces, and she has a more substantial understanding of how to solve those problems.
If elected, Podbielski will also learn from her experience as an ASUA senator. In fact, she has already proven she can take a negative experience and improve on it.
Last year, Podbielski ran on the advising ticket. It is an issue that many candidates have tackled in the past and many continue to promise improvement for. In hopes of brainstorming with students from all divisions of the university, Podbielski organized an advising forum last semester - and the outcome was disastrous.
But like a true leader, Podbielski has taken this experience and bettered her whole game plan. She is currently in the process of redesigning the format and promotional approach to the forum, and she seems to have the honest belief that she will be more successful this time.
For the many offices of ASUA Senators
Diversity was a word thrown around a lot among candidates for Senate. If there is one word to describe the list of candidates, it is diverse. This year's election clearly brought people out of the cracks - non-traditional students, RHA representatives, greek members, athletes and some who simply defied classification. The Opinions Board faced some difficult choices while separating the wholly impressive crowd, but here are the best candidates:
Straight out of Marana, Bron D'Angelo steps up to the election with an air of sincerity and true awe of the University of Arizona's potential.
His experience dealing with ASUA as part of the Arizona Men's Rugby Club opened his eyes to the resources available but disappointed him because of the lack of availability.
His platform is simple - listen to problems clubs have and tell them what they can do.
He plans to educate club members about recruiting and fundraising, thereby increasing UA extra-curricular involvement.
D'Angelo said he notices a lack of listening among the senate, and wants to fill that hole. Bron D'Angelo is like that guy everyone can go to for advice, and the ASUA Senate could use that guy.
As a political science major, Tricia Williams hopes to serve as a voice for the students and an informational resource for issues that affect the UA.
Her major platform issue is funding for clubs.
Instead of spreading existing money, Williams hopes to encourage alternative funding methods for all UA clubs and organizations.
This is a good way to ensure that all clubs can help themselves, as ASUA funding can't serve everyone.
Williams said she also wants to tackle the ASUA Escort Service's budget crisis by soliciting donated vehicles.
Most of the candidates in this election are campaigning on the big issues: funding the escort service; creating professional advising; eliminating the parking problem. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that they will be able to solve the big problems.
That is why we are endorsing the candidacy of Kristel Miller. While she is concerned with the larger issues, she has made her platform out of three smaller issues: a room-mate matching program for freshmen; longer hours for the MSU dining facilities and setting all of the clocks to the same time.
These aren't huge changes, but they are exactly the kind of things that ASUA can accomplish, and the kind of thing that would make life on campus just a little more pleasant for all of us.
Through her work in the College of Architecture, Rebecca Broky has already demonstrated her willingness to work hard on specific projects. She has gotten more than $5,000 worth of equipment donated to her college and wants to solicit more donations for ASUA.
Broky also understands that positive changes in club involvement and student apathy will not come from mass e-mails, but instead, personal interaction from ASUA officials.
It is clear that Broky wants all UA students to be represented in ASUA, including those that do not serve in a club.
Danielle Roberts is also an excellent candidate for ASUA Senate. As a mother who is also going to school, Roberts can effectively give a voice to the high population of independent working students at the UA.
Furthermore, she understands which issues hit these students the hardest.
Most importantly, Roberts plans to use her position in the Senate to lobby for a child care program for working parents attending the UA, something the administration has yet to accomplish.
She would like to pursue partnerships with local child care businesses and explore a variety of other plans that do not necessarily require large amounts of funding.
Roberts would also like to allow the UA family studies department to use the child care facility for research purposes so it benefits academic programs at the UA as well.
Furthermore, Roberts understands the campus housing dilemma and wants to work toward improving Christopher City and providing adequate housing for all campus students. She also wants to see sexual misconduct added to the UA code of conduct and plans to lobby the administration to accomplish this.
Finally, Roberts is opposed to the state legislature attempting to control the UA and knows the importance of allowing the university to handle its problems on its own.
Clearly, Danielle Roberts will be an asset to the ASUA Senate. She is a candidate who will diligently and effectively represent not only independent working students, but the UA as a whole.
Gino Duran was a student government representative while at Purdue University and, as such, worked closely with the governor of Indiana - while working 40 hours a week and managing a full course load.
Though Duran's platform is based on his personal situation - juggling full-time work and classes - he has spoken with several organizations for hours at a time and has the dedication to continue this once in office.
He hopes to lighten the burden on full time students who work by examining student job availability and pay rates at the UA, the possibility of more night classes and easing students' commutes with geography-based parking permits.
Duran has his stuff together - much more so than some candidates with far fewer time constraints on their plate.
Duran says he wants to provide an "independent voice for independent students," and given his experience and understanding of working students, he will.