Vanguard endorsements

Student government elections are here again. We at the Vanguard believe strongly in the importance of the democratic process and the significant impact student leaders can make.

Because this is the first year instant run-off voting is in effect at Portland State we decided to revamp the structure of our endorsements. Below is the “Vanguard ballot,” how our editorial collectively ranks the candidates for president and vice president, and our pick for Student Fee Committee chair. We made our choices based on who we think would serve this campus the best.

To choose our endorsements, the Vanguard editorial board interviewed each of the five candidates for ASPSU’s top positions. In addition to the information and impressions drawn from the interviews, we also drew from our knowledge of the candidates’ backgrounds and track records to make our final decisions. Our endorsements reflect the synthesis of the editorial board’s views, not necessarily any specific member’s opinion.

Research the issues, think carefully and vote.



1st Morse-Bufton

While the other candidates may have their heads in ASPSU, Courtney Morse and Jesse Bufton have their hearts in it. They exude a passion for student activism and a genuine belief in student organizing that would inspire other students to be involved. That is why we think they are the best choice for ASPSU president and vice president.

Morse has experience with grassroots organizing, strategy and internship programs, and Bufton has demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of the often difficult to navigate bureaucracies of Portland State’s administration. This combination of skills would help effectively organize students around key issues next year.

Morse and Bufton would have to work hard to overcome their youth and relative lack of experience within ASPSU. Both have only served on a senate that has been particularly ineffective at achieving its goals. Some of the central tenets of their campaign platform are also overly optimistic and overreaching. Establishing new diversity studies programs is a noble endeavor, but one that would take years to accomplish, not just the single year they would be in office. They would need to work at establishing a long-term, sustainable legacy to be carried on by future administrations. Still, we admire their ambition and their willingness to tackle tough issues.

Though we appreciate their “confrontation, not consultation” attitude with the powers that be, it would also be necessary for a Morse-Bufton candidacy to temper their idealism with a sense of professionalism. Although their energy might do well to create a more active relationship with the student body, good advocates between the students and the administration will present themselves as calm, well-reasoned adults.

Morse and Bufton are the only candidates whose goals cover the full range of issues affecting students in the coming year. They were the only candidates with comprehensive plans both for on-campus issues and utilizing the upcoming legislative year to represent students in Salem – issues that we can’t afford to ignore.

2nd Campbell-Herrera

While the other candidates talk about diversity as a central pillar of their campaigns, Mario Campbell and Mayela Herrera both engender diversity and seem the most genuine about valuing it. Between Campbell’s involvement this year on the SFC and Herrera’s work as ASPSU Multicultural Affairs director, they bring experience from different facets of student leadership at PSU to their roles. They also deserve merit for what appears to be a genuine appreciation of their differing viewpoints – Campbell is president of the College Republicans, Herrera is a Democrat – and a belief that working together would be more effective than working against each other.

However, Campbell and Herrera’s goals range from absurdly over-idealistic to mundanely simple. Attempting to put a student on the City Council is not only legally impossible, it would not be an effective use of time and resources. Publishing a regular campus newsletter, another principal goal, is a good idea, but is aiming awfully low for a presidential platform.

Some goals, however, are realistic, but ambitious. Where other candidates may want to encourage more student involvement with PSU affairs, Campbell has a definitive goal to develop SMSU as a nexus of student activity.

While Campbell has demonstrated an ability to be amiable and work well with others, he seemed confused when asked even basic questions about aspects of the legislative process and why it matters to ASPSU.

We have some reservations about Campbell’s naivete regarding the workings of student government, but in some ways it might be beneficial to have someone as president who is willing to learn in office, rather than someone who is entrenched in a system that in many ways is not working. That’s why Campbell and Herrera are our second choice.

3rd Klute-Johns

Ryan Klute and Ana Johns are by far the most experienced candidates in this year’s race. Their extensive resumes of student involvement are unrivaled not just by the other candidates, but by most students at PSU. Klute also has the advantage of having served as vice president before, with a demonstrated track record, and both candidates are well established and well connected among Portland State’s administrative high-rollers. However, both Klute and Johns seem content to rest on their laurels rather than approach their positions with new and innovative ideas. More than the other candidates, a vote for Klute-Johns is a vote for the status quo. While they claim to be representing the diversity of students at PSU, they struggled to think of a single positive thing to say about their opponents. This smug attitude does not bode well for a campaign built on inclusiveness. In addition, we are concerned that Klute and Johns’ close connections with the administration, particularly within SALP, may hinder them from taking firm positions on contentious issues.

While Klute and Johns seem passionate about fostering campus life, they do not seem particularly interested in advocating for students rights in a larger sense. Important facets of student government like lobbying the legislature and working with student advocacy organizations, such as the Oregon Student Association, seem more like an afterthought than a priority. These are issues that cannot be neglected in a year where the Oregon Legislature will be making decisions on tuition levels and funding for student aid grants – issues that affect all students.

SFC Chair 1st Madeline Enos

The key difference between Madeline Enos and her opponent is that Enos has a clear vision for the role of the SFC chair, and a plan for establishing that role. For Enos, the chair is a facilitator, both for the committee and the community. For this reason, we think she is the best choice for the Student Fee Committee chair.

Like her presidential and vice-presidential slate mates, the biggest challenge Enos would face as SFC chair is her lack of experience. Although she is running for chair, she has never served on the SFC before. She may be overly idealistic about just how much community-building can really be done on the SFC, a naturally contentious process as the committee tries to balance student group growth with a bulging student fee.

However, she has over a year of experience as coordinator of the Student Organizations Council, which functions as a sort of “mini-SFC,” and being on the student group side of the process has helped Enos correctly identify many of the problems that have plagued the SFC process in the past few years. Enos seems aware that many students have struggled with a lack of communication and openness from SFC members, and have been confused by the budgeting process as a result. Enos has clearly defined solutions to this problem, both through establishing better training for SFC members and creating better outreach from the committee to student groups.


Kayla Goldfarb

Of the two SFC candidates, Kayla Goldfarb is the only one with actual experience on the committee. She is currently serving her second consecutive year as a committee member. However, despite her involvement on the SFC, she seems to have taken little personal ownership over problems with the budget process in the past two years, and is quick to blame others for the shortfalls of previous committees.

Goldfarb seems largely content with student groups’ experiences with the SFC process, which to us seems astoundingly out of touch. Poor communication and lack of transparency have plagued the process in recent years, and Goldfarb seems to have little concern about addressing these issues. Rather than working proactively to address student concerns, her approach seems to be to expect students to come to her if they have a problem. Her lack of ownership of the SFC’s difficulties also does not bode well for someone hoping to assume a leadership role. Many of Goldfarb’s answers to questions about problems with the SFC process emphasized other people’s responsibilities rather than providing solutions of her own.

We fear that Goldfarb would engender more conflict within the committee, and would do little to improve outreach to the student body.