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Presidential candidates in close race

By Aaron Mackey
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday March 6, 2003

With less than a week before the Associated Students of the University of Arizona's general elections, presidential candidates J.P. Benedict and Jered Mansell met for the final time last night to publicly discuss their platforms.

As both candidates answered questions from a panel of student leaders, it became clear that both Freshman Class Council Director Benedict and Administrative Vice-President Mansell share the same views on a number of campus issues.

Their similarities were further illustrated by Tuesday's primary results, which revealed that the two candidates are in a dead heat, separated by less than three percent of the vote.

"I think we're very similar in our goals. We have a similar vision on how a student government should be run," said Mansell.

"I feel we are both very knowledgeable on the issues of the school," Benedict said.

If elected, both candidates plan to manage their administrations through delegation.

"You have to be fluid. Understanding that although I am the president I don't know everything," Mansell said.

While Benedict would also delegate responsibilities, he believes that it is important to be a mentor and nurturer to his administration. Because both are currently involved in student government, they are familiar with the budget crises and tuition, and they share similar perspectives on the topics. They believe that a tuition hike is the best for UA and support the Arizona Students' Association's tuition plan over that of President Pete Likins.

"(The University) is trying to stay afloat during hard times," Mansell said.

Benedict offered a similar observation, believing that the hike is important to the long-term success of UA.

"My father once told me, ╬Sometimes you have to make due,'" Benedict said.

Throughout the debate both Benedict and Mansell stressed their commitment to UA, and their passion for the position.

"I am devoted to the University of Arizona," Benedict said. "I love this school."

"I have the dedication to the student body that I think is necessary," Mansell said.

However, as with any political race, there are some areas where the two disagree, such as the creation of a collaboration board to better serve the student community.

Benedict believes that the board, made up of leaders from on-campus organizations, would help foster a better relationship between ASUA and the students. The board has been tried before, but for the past three years it has been inactive.

"I personally don't need a board," Mansell said, adding that he thought that the collaboration board would be a near-impossible task to establish, because scheduling such a meeting would be extremely difficult. Mansell thinks that better collaboration between student government and local organizations can be accomplished through informal meetings and basic communication.

Benedict advocates the importance of a structured body such as the collaborations board, since he believes the collaboration board can have success as long as it is started soon and a definite meeting date and time can be nailed down.

As the election nears both Benedict and Mansell are putting forth extra effort to distinguish themselves as the best candidate for president.

"I want students on this campus to say, ╬Who's going to best represent me?' I represent students," Benedict said

"I don't know anyone who has given more of their heart to this campus over the past three years than I have," Mansell said.

Rebekah Kleinman contributed to this report.

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