Upcoming A.S. elections led by 18-person slate

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Eighteen applications for Associated Students Senate seats were submitted on Oct. 5 shortly before the 4 p.m. deadline, with all 18 candidates for the Oct. 25-26 election running on the same slate.

“This is more applications (than usual) for fall elections, particularly for one slate,” said Brenda Lacy, A.S. government secretary.

Graduate student senate seat II is up for election, as well as senate seat II for each of the eight academic colleges. Additionally, both upper-division seats II and IV and lower division seats II and IV are up for election.

All 18 applicants are running on the same slate headed by campaign manager Peter Gallego, also the A.S. director of legislative affairs, under the slate title of Rallying Initiative Student Empowerment. Of the 18 applicants, five are incumbents.

According to Gallego, he chose to pay the $20 election deposit fee for each of the candidates on the R.I.S.E. slate.

“(The slate) is unusual because the idea is to run against another competing slate as a group,” said Leila Varzideh, A.S. director of elections.

According to Varzideh, it is the first time a slate has appeared in a fall election, and she added slates are normally used only during spring semesters when the A.S. presidency and vice presidency are up for election.

The slate was created for the upcoming election because there was an unusual increase in the number of candidates who wanted to run for seats, she said.

Varzideh also said the slate was created to increase student awareness of A.S.

The eligibility of the applicants will be determined no later than Tuesday, and those who qualify will be allowed to run in the election.

If it is determined that all applicants are eligible, each of the candidates running for academic college senate seats will do so unopposed, according to Gallego. Additionally, there will be five candidates vying for the two available upper-division seats if all applicants qualify, Gallego said.

The official start date of campaigning is Oct. 12.

A press conference will be held Oct. 19 in the Matador Involvement Center. The press conference will provide students with a chance to meet and question the candidates.

In addition, the A.S. Elections Committee will distribute a voter guide a week prior to elections, according the A.S. elections packet.

“I’m not sure how beneficial it will be,” Varzideh said. Varzideh was unsure of what the contents of the voter guide will include, but according to the elections packet, it will include at minimum a picture of each candidate along with answers to three questions posed to each candidate.

Campus elections are important because they allow students to know they do have a voice on campus, Varzideh said.

“(Students) don’t know that there is so much more here than just classes,” she said. “(Elections) are a chance to bring new blood into the A.S.”

The experience of running for an A.S. Senate seat will be beneficial to candidates because it will create a sense of motivation for students as they strive to reach their own goals, she said.

“I think a lot of students don’t think they have what it takes to be leaders,” Varzideh said. “You don’t have to be the loudest person or an extreme extrovert.”

Typical voter turnout for fall elections is low both in relation to the overall number of students on campus and in comparison to spring election voter turnout.

“Usually fall doesn’t get a really high turnout and it is a little depressing,” said A.S. Vice President Sajadi.

According to Sajadi, one reason fall election turnout is less impressive is because the A.S. president and vice president seats are not up for election, something that typically attracts more attention from the student body.

“If I have time, I will vote,” said Cynthia Aravalo, senior family studies major.

Aravalo said she votes in most of the campus elections, but she said she is often unsure of what is on the ballot until she reads it at the polling table.

“I don’t have the time to stop and start reading,” said Erika Tellez, junior child development major. “Why would I vote on something I’m not familiar with? They don’t do that much publicity.”

Election promotions this year will include the traditional T-shirts and newspaper ads, according to Varzideh. In addition, banners will be put up around campus, including a large one that will be placed in front of the Oviatt Library.

Three referendum items concerning the A.S. Constitutional Affairs Board and the creation of new at-large senate seats will also be on the Fall 2005 ballot.

Michael Salseda can be reached at michael.salseda@gmail.com.