A one-horse race

Within hours after Jil Heimensen had her first public debate against her opponent for ASPSU president, she learned that the Elections Board decided to disqualify both her and her vice-presidential candidate Johnnie Ozimkowski.

Within hours after Jil Heimensen had her first public debate against her opponent for ASPSU president, she learned that the Elections Board decided to disqualify both her and her vice-presidential candidate Johnnie Ozimkowski.

As it stands, Heimensen’s opponents Katie Markey and Selina Poulsen are running uncontested for president and vice-president for next year’s ASPSU, respectively.

The decision was reached by the E-Board at a special meeting held Wednesday night, according to its chair, Debra Porta. In an e-mail sent to Heimensen, Porta said that there were three complaints of rule infractions brought against Heimensen and Ozimkowski that were reported to the E-Board.

Ultimately, the board ruled that two of the complaints were grounds for disqualification and dismissed the third. The candidates have the opportunity to appeal to the ASPSU Judicial Board. Their names will still appear on the ballot but any votes cast for them will be considered invalid.

The first infraction included Heimensen’s use of an ASPSU copy machine to make copies of the signatures she gathered in an effort to apply as a late registration candidate. Porta said such use violates the E-Board’s prohibition of the use of student resources for the purposes of an election. This complaint was brought against her by current ASPSU communications director, Laura Morency.

Heimensen said she was shocked by the decision. In a letter to the E-Board, Heimensen said she did use the ASPSU copier to make a copy of one particular signature from her application for personal reasons.

“The first signature I received [for my application as a late registration candidate] was from Soloman Trimble, an actor…so I wanted to [keep] my original copy…that has his signature on it so I could keep [it] as a memento,” Heimensen wrote.

Heimensen said as late registration candidates, she and Ozimkowski were prohibited from campaigning on campus, which put them at a disadvantage. She says her use of the copy machine did not violate the E-Board’s no-campaigning rule for late registration candidates.

Porta said the candidates were made explicitly aware of the rule and its applications at candidate orientation sessions.

In the second infraction, the E-Board said Heimensen’s posting of campaign information on her Web site, www.psusfc.com, violated the no-campaigning rule for late registration candidates and is also not allowed because of the site’s links to the Student Fee Committee, on which Heimensen currently serves as a member.

“The implications of the damage to ASPSU and to the university as a whole weighed heavily upon us in these deliberations,” Porta said. “New candidates are traditionally expected to make the odd misstep in an election. We explicitly told candidates that, if unsure about a course of action they were thinking about during their campaign efforts, to ask before acting.”

Porta said she made Heimensen and Ozimkowski aware of the rules on more than one occasion.

In a response to the E-Board, Heimensen said that the Web site had been in use since last year when she ran as a candidate for chair of the SFC. In last year’s election, Heimensen received a similar complaint from her opponent over the name of her Web site, which they claimed gave her an unfair advantage, as it may have misled voters into thinking it’s the SFC’s “official” Web site.

Since then, Heimensen said she has taken steps to make sure that the Web site reflects her personal campaign, and not the SFC as a whole. The acronym “SFC” was re-titled to stand for “Students For Change.”

“It was commonly referred to as the ‘unofficial SFC site,'” she said, “When I decided to run for president [this year], I took down all the SFC-related materials.”

Porta said SFC-related material remained on the site as well as a link to it from the official ASPSU SFC Web site, which was formally brought to the E-Board’s attention in the way of a formal complaint filed by Poulsen.
Ozimkowski said he was unaware of a link to the page located on the ASPSU SFC Web site and, therefore, could not have removed it.

 “The site has been a concern of the board from the beginning,” she said.

The third infraction brought to the board, which was ultimately dismissed, was against Ozimkowski.

“The infraction limit had already been reached, there wasn’t really a point,” said Porta about why the board dismissed the complaint.

The complaint alleged that he made an announcement of candidacy in a public forum before being approved by the E-board as an official candidate. Such an action is a violation of the E-board’s bylaws, Porta said.

According to Aaron Baker, a member of the PSU Debate Team and a candidate for next year’s Student Fee Committee as part of Markey and Poulsen’s slate, Ozimkowski had announced his candidacy one day before he was approved as a candidate by the E-Board.

Baker said he made the E-Board aware of Ozimkowski’s actions, but said he wouldn’t characterize Ozimkowski’s action as entirely wrongful.

“We’ve been strongly cautioned by the E-Board to keep your candidacy to yourself until you’re approved,” Baker said. “[Ozimkowski] told me about his candidacy as Jill’s vice-president and asked me to support him and [to] secure votes from the debate team for him.”

Heimensen said she is unaware of the specifics regarding Ozimkowski and what constitutes a “public forum.”

It’s too late to remove Heimensen and Ozimkowski from the ballot, according to Assistance Director of Student Leadership and Activities Programs Domanic Thomas.

“No action will be taken to remove them until all appeals are exhausted…which could be as late as after the election,” he said.

Heimensen said she believes that she and Ozimkowski are being treated unfairly by the E-board because of the issues they stood for in their campaign.

During a public debate against Markey on Wednesday, Heimensen said her main goal is to work with the university to ensure students will have a voice in the university restructuring discussion. She also said she did not agree with ASPSU’s protest against restructuring, which took place earlier this year.

She also said that because of her and Ozimkowski’s experience in handling student fee money, as opposed to Markey’s political roots as an ASPSU legislative affairs director, the two are more fit to have discussions with the university administration when it comes to restructuring.

“The whole restructuring thing is really a larger discussion of a bigger budget, how to move things around with the decrease in revenue,” Heimensen said. “Johnnie and I both have…an intimate understanding of the SFC budget.”

Before Heimensen was disqualified by the E-Board, she said she had notified them of a possible rule violation by Markey and Poulsen in their campaign.

In an e-mail dated April 1, Heimensen wrote that her opponents had made copies of students’ voter registration cards collected during ASPSU’s “Get out the Vote” campaign with the intent of using the contact information for the ASPSU election. 

“Aside from being highly questionable at best and potentially illegal, my concern is that they will use the names gathered to their advantage in the upcoming election,” Heimensen wrote.

According to Heimensen, the E-Board has not responded to her complaint.

“[The E-Board] didn’t do anything about that, but [made] a big deal out of me using the copier,” Heimensen said. “That is just ridiculous.”

Heimensen said the E-Board’s decision to disqualify her was to have an ASPSU president who is more sympathetic to the Oregon Student Association, which opposes any kind of corporate governance.

Porta said the complaint was never lodged in a formal manner, but that if it ever were it would be taken very seriously.

“[OSA has] a problem with us because we tried to cut out the campus organizer [position] from the ASPSU budget this year,” she said. “They’re just trying to find some way to disqualify us and have a more OSA-friendly candidate, in my personal opinion.”

Heimensen cited two examples of the E-Board’s decisions that put them at a disadvantage.

“They have told Johnnie that if he’s going to talk to people about the campaign, he needs to take off his ‘ASPSU’ button, then he can talk about it, and he can put it back when he’s done,” Heimensen said.

Ozimkowski said, “I was surprised by how much support I got right out of the gate…the E-Board and Katie did kill the silent majority at PSU and spat in the face of the 26,000 students who come to PSU to just get a degree.”