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Student Candidate Endorsements

By Wildcat Opinions Board
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday March 10, 2003

Competitive. That's the name of this year's student elections. Oh, they're the normal senate candidates who promise things that couldn't and shouldn't ever happen. But there's a solid group of senate hopefuls with potential. The officer races (president, executive and administrative vice presidents) are even more exciting serious, competent competitors with strong platforms. Some choices are harder than others, but even those who did not win endorsements put up a heck of a fight. Voters will have the final say tomorrow and Wednesday.


President: Jered Mansell

Administrative Vice President Mansell is not the model candidate for president.

He's made mistakes, first as a senator and now this year.

But he's matured since he ran last time around, and seems prepared to move up the ranks. Mansell is not especially inspiring or charismatic. He's blunt and sometimes overbearing.

Nevertheless, he's made improvements in programs and services, from the Women's Resource Center to SafeRide Express.

And the guy has passion.

He paints himself up in red and blue for every UA basketball game. He also carries three years of experience as an RA that shows dedication and leadership.

Mansell says he can delegate, and the student body president must trust his appointees in order to succeed as chief spokesperson.

He's the only candidate who can successfully carry out the efforts President Doug Hartz has made to bridge students with administrators.

Mansell is candid in a one-on-one setting and seems truly interested in working hard for students.

He will, no doubt, hit the learning curve and parachute into the position successfully, if elected. And Mansell says he would be willing to work with the candidates who end up carrying the other two officer seats.

J.P. Benedict, director of the Freshman Class Council, has given Mansell a run for his money. He has an air of confidence and has spent the election showcasing his pride for the UA. Benedict has failed, however, to give a convincing argument for why he's the better of the two men and how his experience with the Freshman Class Council pertains to the job of president.

Mansell is quick to criticize Benedict's performance as director of the council, but as administrative vice president, Mansell had ultimate control over the direction of the organization. Why didn't he step in?

Benedict is a fun guy with a great attitude, but if wants to keep his votes, he needs to show students that he can balance fun with work.

He hasn't done that and until he does, Mansell looks like the better of the two to represent students.


Executive VP: Melanie Rainer

The student senate needs help, and Melanie Rainer is the person who can save it.

For too long, senators have been sitting back and not fulfilling their promises.

Rainer wants to hold senators accountable and give them goals to work toward.

Her MyUA program would advertise clubs the right way, through an online reminder calendar within Student Link. And her idea for ClubCards would save student clubs money and benefit near-campus businesses.

Her rival, Senator Scott Cheney, is a strong candidate.

However, Rainer's experience in ASUA, as a club advocate and student lobbyist, is solid. Her views on tuition were misguided and failed to pass in front of the Arizona Board of Regents, but her motivation was strong.

Cheney missed the boat on tackling the dorm-housing cap. If he doesn't get elected, Cheney should stay involved on campus next semester. He might even consider spreading his wings and working outside of ASUA.

As the primary results illustrated, Cheney's strong competition, but Rainer's the woman for the job.


Administrative VP: Dan Suh

The role of administrative vice president demands an individual who can tackle the job with a plan.

Senator Suh is the person who can take the reins and manage the position that oversees all programs and services.

With his feet wet in ASUA, Suh has leadership experience from working with the Freshman Class Council, Student Health Advisory Committee and Speaker's Board.

Suh was one of the few senators, when realizing his campaign platform was unattainable, adjusted to promote the new Q & A program within the Freshman Class Council.

He is professional and approachable and would make ASUA a better place.

While Senator Victoria Ruan beat Suh by nearly 20 percent in the primary, she's the weaker of the two candidates.

She has many of the same ideas, but lacks the concrete plan of Suh.

Still, Ruan was active in promoting women's awareness on campus this year and would be a great candidate for the director of the Women's Resource Center.

Ruan definitely has a place in student programs and services, but Suh has the right agenda and the right plan.



Kara Harris

Harris has the ASUA experience under her belt to make her an effective senator. She wants to set up forums to educate students on tuition hikes and Focused Excellence plans.

Harris is the only candidate who promises to vote on her principles, rather than simply succumbing to proposals popular among the student body.

As the current administrative assistant in student government, Harris had a hand in planning and executing the forum for clubs and organization presidents and Club Olympics, and wants to use her term as senator to reach out to more UA clubs.

Drew McInerney

A pre-business sophomore active in the Sigma Chi fraternity and the Eller Finance Club, McInerney is a top choice for ASUA student senate. McInerney plans to promote practical, useful programs such as extending Cat Tran service to area grocery stores and providing incoming freshmen with customized information on campus clubs. His proposals are nothing new, but he seems to have what it takes.

Nathan Pluke

Pluke is the president of "Cats for Kids," a volunteer organization that seeks to provide youth-focused community service and oversees more than 150 volunteers.

Entering his last year at UA, he looks to establish a direct fund for donating to community service projects.

An elder statesman of sorts, Pluke brings both maturity and passion to the senatorial office.

Patrick Brennan

While Brennan's proposal for a moratorium on additional tuition increases lacks backbone, he has a vision for streamlining transferable courses between UA and ASU.

An ASU transfer himself, Brennan also hopes to work with his counterparts at ASU to improve coordination on issues.

Brennan has also brought up student advising in his campaign, an issue students have been quiet about since Ray Quintero left office.

Sara Birnbaum

After pre-campaign research revealed part of Birnbaum's original platform extending CatCard meal plans to restaurants on University Blvd. was unfeasible, she switched to a workable platform of improving food options at Park Student Union.

She shows great potential as a much-needed student activist in ASUA, and even plans to hold her office hours on the Mall.

Blake Buchanan

Buchanan has the energy and enthusiasm to be a student senator. Of course, if elected, he'll learn his first week in office that his platform needs work.

KAMP Radio and UATV, the Wildcat's cousin media outlets, are probably not interested in having Buchanan improve their content. But the Freshman Class Council member could have influence in basketball ticket distribution if he makes his voice heard and doesn't become prey to the ASUA


Jacob Reuben

Though his platform is shamelessly unrealistic it includes CatCards on University Blvd. and more traffic lights on Speedway Reuben would make a great senator.

The ambition that caused him to pick such grand proposals will make him likely to actively participate in the senate, even if he has to drop his pet


Nicholas Bajema

Bajema wants to reform the process to buy basketball tickets.

While some of his opponents feel sales via the Internet would be best, Bajema wants to develop a safe, organized and fun tradition of camping out to purchase tickets.

He says the key is to just let students form a line, not force a mass mob to form. He is appalled by the lack of grass maintenance on the Mall, a concern to UA students.

Soral Karim

The fact that Karim is back on the ballot after a disappointing loss in last year's race shows that he is truly dedicated to the position.

In addition, his roommate preference form proposal is a great idea that can realistically be acted on by a student senator, and a campus-wide formal would be a worthwhile event for ASUA to manage.

Matt Harris

Harris is a freshman with hopes of promoting knowledge of ASUA's activities around campus. He is a member of both Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity and an advocate of expanding SafeRide's boundaries and schedule.

Harris has the awareness of campus issues to succeed in office.

Endorsements are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Daniel Scarpinato, Jessica Lee, Jose Ceja, Jennifer Duffy, Brett Fera, Erik Flesch, Caitlin Hall, Jessica Suarez and Kendrick Wilson.

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