Few watch as senate hopefuls square off

Sixteen of 28 Student Senate candidates met in Parkway North of Smith Memorial Student Union yesterday to state their case and convince voters to elect them to the 25-member legislative body.

Sixteen of 28 Student Senate candidates met in Parkway North of Smith Memorial Student Union yesterday to state their case and convince voters to elect them to the 25-member legislative body.

The candidate turnout was an improvement over the last debate on April 9, which saw just nine candidates tussle over issues of perennial importance, such as sustainability, student fees and the need for transparency.

This is the first election in several years that has seen more candidates run than there are spots available. Last year, just 16 senate candidates ran, meaning one vote would automatically elect the candidate.

Tuesday’s debate was hosted by Elections Board Chair Ingrid Castenella, which again suffered from low turnout. As hundreds of students milled in the South Park Blocks, the audience in Parkway North numbered less than 20.

Patricia Binder
Binder, upset with the recent modifications to the Student Fee Committee budget, said she would make oversight of the committee a key goal. She also said she wants to work on creating a universal Flexpass that would offer free transportation to Portland State students.

“I’m running for senate because I want to be free to work on what students tell me they want,” she said.

Nick Carlstrom

Carlstrom, a transfer student from the University of Arizona, said he would approach the job with the utmost respect if elected. He said one of his main goals would be to create a centralized campus events calendar.

“I would serve the position with a lot of respect,” he said. “Please vote. That’s the most important thing.”

Brendan Castricano
Castricano is a current senator who is spearheading the Green Fund initiative on this year’s ballot. The initiative would create a $5-per-term fee aimed at, among other things, reducing the cost of the Flexpass by at least $10.

“I’ve been working on the Flexpass campaign all year,” he said. “So, basically, I want to continue working on that.”

Wael Elasady
Elasady moved to Portland from Arizona six months ago. He said students must reclaim their role within the American political process. He worked on several anti-war campaigns and also campaigned for Barack Obama and John Kerry.

“One of the most important things is to get students involved again.”

Dylan Enloe
Enloe, a senior computer science major, said one of his main goals is to improve communication next year.

“I believe that the communication between the legislative branch of the student body and the rest of the students is not very good,” Enloe said.

Maria Escobar
Escobar said she wants to make sure that all student groups are heard and made specific reference to her involvement with Greek life.

“We have two core responsibilities,” she said. “We need to hear student voices and actively seek them out. The other big job we have is utilizing the checks and balances [on other branches of student government].”

Adia Imara
Imara is new to student government but has experience working with the Black Student Union.

“I am new to this student leadership game at PSU,” she said, adding that she would rely on more experienced student leaders to help her get a good start. “I hope I get an opportunity to grow with PSU.”

Stephen “PV” Jantz
Jantz said the real issue for him is the oversight of the different branches of student government and assuring that all student voices are heard.

“I’m running for senate again simply because I believe we’re making so much progress this year that we need to continue next year,” Jantz said.

Robert Lowe
Lowe is a current senator who previously worked for Barack Obama’s campaign last year. He said it was an inspiring experience, especially since he was able to meet Obama personally.

“The role of a senator, for me, is speaking for the students,” Lowe said. “We need to get in touch with all students.”

Daniel Lyons
Lyons, now in his third year as a senator, said he wanted to continue the work he has started on this year, including striving to make ASPSU more accountable.

Daria Raskova
Raskova said that she wants to improve communication with students and also implored people to come out and vote in the election—one of many senatorial candidates who did so.

“I want to give back and empower students to speak up,” she said.

Fallon Roderick
Roderick said that she is running because she feels that “Portland is an amazing community and we need to give back.” Like many of her fellow candidates, Roderick called on students to turn out for the elections en masse.

“I know you’re probably all jaded from the modern political process,” she said, before asking students to look past that and vote in the May 4-8 election.

Johanna Rose
A sophomore, Rose said she would work to keep tuition from increasing, an unlikely goal to find much success given the current economic crisis.

“Student government is the only way we’re going to be able to communicate with our legislature,” she said. “I will do my best and I will be really committed to the job if elected.”

Miranda Stern
Stern is a current senator working on the Green Initiative Fund, as well as the freshman zine. She said that if elected she hopes to make the transition smooth for those who haven’t been involved with student government before.

“Part of the reason I am running again is to help people adjust to the new way we’re running things this year,” she said.

Jarrell Townsend
Townsend is a current senator and a key force behind creating a new zine for incoming freshmen.

“I want you guys to allow me to continue the work I’m doing now,” he said.

He added that he is interested in continuing to revamp the SFC.

Monica Valencia
Valencia said that the thing students should be concerned with is making sure that their voices are heard.

“I think it’s important to listen to everybody and get representation so everybody’s voice is heard,” she said. “It’s very important that everybody vote. Get informed, vote for whoever you like, but vote.”

Pakou Xion

Xion said she has a passion to work in the community, and though she doesn’t have as much experience as some other candidates, she would give the job “all I got.”

“I feel that I can represent people because I have a good skill for listening,” Xion said. “It’s a personal goal of mine to help people.”