The raucous caucus: Careful what you wish ¸ and vote ¸ for

By Jason Poreda
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, March 1, 2004

This time it counts. This time is for real. On Wednesday and Thursday, the student body will get to choose who will represent it next year in student government. From the undergraduate senate to the student body president, it will decide what direction the Associated Students of the University of Arizona takes. Want ASUA to represent you better? Well, this is your time to choose who will take the reigns; the only problem is that the pool of candidates this year is not the most unique bunch, and similarities among their platforms make it hard to pick the right ones.

Choosing who to vote for is often a daunting task for the average student going to the polls. Sifting through all the campaign promises that sound as though the candidates got them from an ASUA random-word generator seems as hard as organic chemistry. Words like "communication," "accountability," "leadership" and "involvement" ¸ just to name a few ¸ seem to blend together and water down all of the candidates. I sometimes can't tell them apart.

Last week, the student body had a voting "warm up" in the form of a primary election held Wednesday and Thursday. It had its first opportunity to test its ability to filter out the BS and pick the candidates it feels are the best ¸ or at least its best friends. Of course, with so many people running for senate this year, you could put their pictures on the 20 spaces of a dartboard and pick who gets your vote by playing a good old game of 301. Qualified or not, there are not many votes separating the field of lackluster candidates this time around, making what could be a dry, boring election somewhat entertaining.

Indeed, it is hard to distinguish among them all, but what little advice there is to give on this subject is this: Pick the person who will actually do the job. Let's be honest ¸ to anyone who reads their platforms or sees them speak, it's becomes clearer who really wants to do this and who wants a resumÄ filler. Whatever their campaign promises are and however boring they may seem, there is always a way to tell if a candidate is just goofing around.

It should be a given that the presidential and vice presidential candidates are serious, or at least know what they are getting themselves into ¸ if there is even a hint of a doubt about this, they don't deserve to be on the ballot, let alone get your vote.

This year's candidates for senate are another matter. Being a senator is as big a job as you want it to be, and they will be as successful as they want to be. There are a few candidates, who I will not name, who seem to be doing this in an effort to "feel important," and not really to represent the student body. Keep that in mind when you log onto your computer, because this is the only way to make sure that next year's senate works hard.

The student body impressed everyone with a large, near-record turnout in the primaries this year. That is an awesome trend that will hopefully continue to the general election, but we'll see how it goes when the results are announced Thursday. Let's hope that if it does continue, that record number of voters votes for the right people who will do the right job. Nothing would be worse for ASUA than a very large voter turnout that brings in senators who want to sit on their butts and collect their very small paycheck. Chants of "Well, that's who the students picked, and we should stick to what they chose" won't be enough to hide the fact that the senators aren't doing their jobs.

Jason Poreda was a senator in the 2002-2003 academic year and can be reached at