By Opinions Board
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, March 8, 2005
While some candidates shine above the rest- senatorial candidate Ashley Eden and executive vice presidential candidate Erin Hertzog come to mind first for their efforts in getting Cats RIDDE a serious look from the administration - while others, like most every other senatorial candidate, stand out for reasons not as well-received. The Wildcat opinions board has sifted through the lot to bring the you best - and the rest - of this year's ballot.
President - Cade Bernsen
Cade Bernsen isn't cut from the cloth of previous Associated Students of the University of Arizona presidents. Though armed with a sharp wit and a sharper tongue, he lacks the practice and polish of a career ASUA member, and his oft-abrasive honesty stands in sharp contrast to the guarded demeanor of other student "leaders."
Jacob Reuben, on the other hand, fits the presidential mold perfectly. In fact, listening to him speak, one gets the impression that he's spent the past three years cautiously monitoring the moves of presidents Doug Hartz, J.P. Benedict and Alistair Chapman.
Trouble is, it seems he's done little else. Despite years as an ASUA insider, experience that's come to be a major selling point for his campaign, Reuben has had a remarkably undistinguished career in student government. In fact, when asked to name three things he'd accomplished in three years of service, the former ASUA senator stalled out after one example.
It's true that Bernsen lacks the knowledge of a meticulous observer and strategist. But what he doesn't know won't hurt students. What he does know - how to energetically seek out their concerns, how to independently and thoughtfully assess the politics of change and, most importantly, how to tirelessly lobby on students' behalf - stands to help students immeasurably.
If there is one thing stemming ASUA's progress toward effectively representing students, it is the groupthink that causes their platforms to be nearly interchangeable. Bernsen shares some of his platform points with other candidates, but there is a telling difference in the way he justifies them.
For example, when candidates in recent years have been asked why they feel it important that there be a childcare facility on campus, most have immediately pointed out that the UA is the only Pacific 10 Conference school without one - the classic ASUA compare-and-correct strategy. When explaining his proposal, Bernsen appeared to teem with anger that the issue had gone unresolved so long, his voice rising to a shout when he asked, "Do you realize that mothers on campus are breastfeeding their babies in bathroom stalls between classes, because they have nowhere else to do it?"
Bernsen wants nothing more than to lobby for students - to UA administrators, to the Arizona Board of Regents, to the state Legislature - and his interview with this board starkly and refreshingly illustrated the difference between claiming to care about students' interests and actually caring about students' interests.
If Jacob Reuben is elected, he will fare no worse, but certainly no better, than his predecessors. And, like his predecessors, he will hold on for dear life as he's taken for a ride by UA politics. But if Cade Bernsen is elected, students can be certain he'll be the one doing the driving.
Administrative vice president - Cassi Sonn
It's the rare ASUA candidate that doesn't use buzzwords like improving "communication" and increasing "awareness" of ASUA. Usually these are empty promises that signify lack of a real campaign platform.
With Cassi Sonn, we get the sense that she actually understands why it's important. As marketing director and as a two-year resident assistant in the residence halls, she understands the disconnection between the actions ASUA takes and how those actions affect students.
As is often the case, ASUA will have a very effective program, such as the online database of course and teacher evaluations, but what matters is not how good the service is but how many students use it. Sonn knows how to market programs so as to improve their use.
Fernando Ascencio can stand tall with his achievements as president of the speaker's board. Aside from luring such speakers as Michael Moore and hosting a debate that included John McCain, he has laid the groundwork to lure top musical and comedic acts without dipping into student funds.
But Ascencio strikes us as a micromanager that would try to achieve tasks through his personal dedication and work ethic. While this makes him an outstanding president of speaker's board, we think that the ability to delegate is more important to any potential administrative vice president. And that is where we feel most confident with Sonn.
Sonn's platform presents faults. We see much better uses of ASUA's time and energy than creating more class councils. But when it comes to overseeing 15 programs, we think she merits election over Ascencio.
Executive vice president - Erin Hertzog
It's a shame that Erin Hertzog doesn't have an opponent. Though assured of her position, she knows there has been something missing in terms of the chance to elaborate on her qualifications.
It's unfortunate, because Hertzog's record and platform would stack up well against potential opponents. As an ASUA senator, her work on and passion for Cats RIDDE, a program similar to SafeRide that caters to would-be drunk drivers, shows that she is someone who will dedicate long hours to concrete, meaningful efforts. She also recognizes when there is a problem, such as the current system of funding requests from the Appropriations Board, and proposes a straightforward solution.
Though she seems to fit the typical ASUA mold and doesn't bring truly innovative thinking or ideas, she speaks in clear terms and understands her future role as executive vice president well.
We don't like the idea of a free pass - only one person even picked up a packet to run against her - but we find Hertzog to be deserving of her future office.
The Associated Students of the University of Arizona senatorial race pits 20 candidates against each other for 10 spots. Unable to find 10 we felt comfortable endorsing, we name the five for whom we did and single out five candidates not particularly worth the students' vote.
Even if Ashley Eden's platform was as flawed as many of those running against her, the public administration junior would still be a practical shoo-in for endorsement in her re-election campaign.
Eden understands that lofty goals - like the Cats RIDDE designated driver program - are fine as long as a senator has a means to carry them out. No matter one's opinion on the cause she's working toward, Eden's experience and willingness to see her plans out to the end make her the most senatorial candidate of the entire bunch. It doesn't hurt that Cats RIDDE is just a few steps from hitting the streets either, cementing her legitimacy.
Freshman Matthew Boepple has a long run with ASUA written all over him. His well-polished, precise ideas won't blow you away, but will leave you feeling confident enough in his ability to learn on the fly.
Boepple doesn't try to wow his fans or counteract his critics with creative, breakthrough ideas, but that may actually be his strongest trait.
Senatorial candidates run year after year piling useless promises on top of useless promises. Boepple, a native Tucsonan who attended nearby Tucson High School, only promises to improve programs already in place, rather than push for new plans that won't have enough time to come to fruition. Good enough for us.
If persistency was all that mattered, Loehman might be in the running for president. Loehman candidly says he's applied for a host of positions within ASUA and around campus, only to be turned down by most, save for a job as an Residence Hall Association representative, vice president of his residence hall and as a senate aid for Nathan Bell this year.
Loehman's push for the senate centers around that exact principle: He wants ASUA to be less exclusive. The sophomore pushes for more opportunities to be involved, on top of letting students know more often what ASUA is up to and where it's nearly $1 million in funds go each year. The desire to be informed and to inform others is worth plenty in this year's race.
Jami Reinsch is another senatorial candidate with lofty expectations for her post, but this one seems to have done her homework.
Her plans to create daycare programs may be too much to accomplish in a single year without the backing of fellow ASUA members such as potential president Cade Bernsen.
But binders upon binders of research of what other schools have done to help student-parents on campus prove she's willing to put the time in.
Alex Dong's platform may have a few holes, but the junior's innovative ideas put those who want to increase ASUA awareness to shame. Dong is already knee-deep in research to try and create a contract with music sharing companies like iTunes and Napster to offer discounts to students who download music legally.
His idea of an online auction network for students to trade items, such as furniture or other apartment-ware that's lost its luster or necessity also presents something the students not only can use, but may even want.
Don't punch that ballot...
Some senatorial candidates' platforms mimic those of their predecessors: lofty promises, lack of forethought and an almost complete lack of a working knowledge of ASUA's true role on campus.
Lexie Ettinger suffers from the problem most senatorial candidates don't realize exists: extremely unrealistic goals mixed with a lack of planning or research. Ideas like providing campus with a bilingual edition of the the Arizona Daily Wildcat and putting CatCard readers in
taxicabs take the cake this year as the most unfeasible and under-researched ideas presented by almost any candidate running. Senators can not expect to be able to earn the confidence of the voters if they haven't an idea of the logistics of the platform they campaign on.
Tyler Reece contradicted his own idea, proposing to cut the tuition-attached Student Recreation Center fee for those who don't use the Rec Center that much while at the same time asking to add Web cams at the Rec Center so students can check on wait times from their dorm room. Cutting costs while adding more cost-intensive technology. Nice.
Daniel Rein can be given the unfortunate distinction of running on a platform idea that actually happened during his campaign: creation of a new student section in McKale Center. When asked about what his new campaign would be, Rein declined to change it, citing his dislike with new section and that students need to be on the side of the court. Not gonna happen.
Brad Benites' campaign is also rooted within athletics, as he cites a need for students to get into Icecat games with a ZonaZoo pass. Ticket sales are crucial for the success of the Icecat program, as the team receives no money from the school. We say students can afford $8 or so to go to a game.
Laura Ory's ideas weren't so bad to not offer support, she simply just doesn't pose a dominant enough force to get things done as a senator. Being a senator is tough enough, but the deck is stacked against the soft-spoken Ory. The fact that her platform rests on adding recycling to campus and giving clubs more funds - even though the appropriations board has a surplus of funds right now - doesn't help her cause.
Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Evan Caravelli, Brett Fera, Caitlin Hall, Ryan Johnson and Jesse Lewis.