Beisell declared president

Patrick Beisell was declared ASPSU president May 15, after the Elections Board ruled to invalidate Rudy Soto’s status as presidential candidate and the student votes that he received in the ASPSU elections held in April.

Patrick Beisell was declared ASPSU president May 15, after the Elections Board ruled to invalidate Rudy Soto’s status as presidential candidate and the student votes that he received in the ASPSU elections held in April.

The Elections Board upheld a Judicial Board decision that ruled Soto ineligible as a candidate because he dropped below a six-credit requirement to run for and serve as the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) president.

The ASPSU student government elections were held during the third of April. Beisell and running mate Johnnie Ozimkowski lost the popular vote, 910 to 999, to Soto and his running mate Brad Vehafric.

Beisell filed an appeal to the Judicial Board after receiving information that Soto had dropped below the six-credit requirement during the election week. Beisell’s appeal asked that Soto be declared ineligible, which the Judicial Board upheld on April 26.

“This is a temporary setback, we are going to file an appeal,” Soto said after the May 15 meeting. “I believe both boards didn’t follow the constitution. I would straight up say that I believe ASPSU is operating corrupt [sic] and they will stop at nothing to elect their friend.”

Soto said he dropped below the six-credit minimum during the election because he was adding and dropping classes, a right he said he believes he has as a PSU student. The Monday following the election, during the fourth week of spring term, Soto said he was enrolled in 12 credits again.

Following a month of tense meetings and strong words, supporters of both candidates remained silent after the Elections Board declared Beisell ASPSU president.

One Elections Board member, Tara Lundberg, said she was torn between what she believes is ethical and what her duties are as a member of the Elections Board. When she seconded the motion to invalidate Soto, Lundberg broke into tears.

“Where I’ve been torn is doing what I feel is right and what the constitution is,” Lundberg said. “For me they are two different things and it’s just disappointing that they are two different things. They should be one.”

Elections Board member Ethan Gross said it is not the job of the Elections Board to interpret the constitution and that they are mandated by the Judicial Board to invalidate Soto.

“It’s our duty to carry out that mandate,” Gross said.

Soto attempted to question the Judicial Board’s interpretation of the constitution, but Elections Board member Sean Larkin said it was not the right place for such a debate.

“If we don’t uphold our own process then we are basically striking down the very responsibilities and powers that we have,” Larkin said. “And as much as I want to entertain these constitutional debates, this is not the proper body to do that.”

Legal counsel that Soto hired issued a statement to the Elections Board and various PSU administrators, which states that Soto should be president, according to Article III, Section 5 of the ASPSU constitution.

The clause states that candidates and officers in ASPSU, as well as those serving in committees, must “enroll in and complete at least six credits hours each quarter, excluding Educational Activity Leadership Credits, during the term of office….”

The language “during the term of office” states that Soto would be eligible because his term of office has not begun, according to Soto’s legal counsel.

The letter also states that it would be a violation of the ASPSU constitution to prevent Soto from dropping below six credits within the four-week add/drop period. Article II, Section 4 of the ASPSU constitution says that no agency or program of ASPSU can take action that violates privileges granted to that student by PSU.

Last week the Elections Board sought legal advice from Chip Lazenby, Oregon Department of Justice legal counsel for Portland State, in a closed-session meeting. After the meeting, he said he agreed with the Judicial Board decision to uphold Beisell’s election appeal.

With the elected ASPSU officers taking office on June 1, Soto said he feels the pressure of the deadline to appeal. He said he would continue to fight, not just for himself, but also for everyone who voted for and supported him.

“I feel overwhelmed by the amount I’ve been getting,” Soto said about support from the student body. “This isn’t about me losing, this is about students losing.”

Although Beisell said he wishes the circumstances were different, he is glad that a decision was finally made. Beisell also expects that the process might go on even longer, he said.

“The man hired lawyers, a whole team of lawyers. We are going to see an appeal to probably the J-Board next week,” Beisell said.

Lundberg said the constant pressure from outside sources made her uncomfortable with the entire process.

“I’m sick of people telling me what I need to be doing,” Lundberg said.

The Elections Board is scheduled to meet again next Tuesday, May 22, at 4 p.m. They expect to validate the rest of the election results at that meeting.