Vanguard endorsements

Student government elections are finally here after being cancelled at the end of last term. The work that student leaders do is increasingly important, as is the fair and democratic process used to elect them.

Student government elections are finally here after being cancelled at the end of last term. The work that student leaders do is increasingly important, as is the fair and democratic process used to elect them.

There are only two candidates running for ASPSU president this year, meaning that instant-runoff voting will not be used. Below is the “Vanguard Ballot,” our editorial board’s collective ranking of the candidates for president and vice president, and our selection for Student Fee Committee chair.

To make our endorsements, the Vanguard editorial board conducted interviews with each of the six candidates for student government’s top positions. In addition to the impressions and information gained from the interviews, we drew from our knowledge of the candidates’ experience and track records to make our final decisions. These endorsements are a synthesis of the editorial board’s positions, not necessarily the position of any one member.

The individuals voted into ASPSU positions will be representing over 25,000 students at Portland State for an entire year, starting summer 2007. Research the issues, think carefully and vote. Polls open on Monday at 8 a.m. and will remain open until Friday at 7 a.m. on:

President/vice presidentOur pick: Patrick Beisell and Johnnie Ozimkowski

Both Patrick Beisell and Rudy Soto ran on the Progressive Slate last year with current ASPSU President Courtney Morse, and in many ways they are ideologically similar. However, it is our belief that Beisell has the necessary skills and relevant student government experience to accomplish at least some of his campaign goals next year.

Beisell and his running mate Johnnie Ozimkowski served on the ASPSU executive staff this year as state affairs director and federal affairs director, respectively. Both have demonstrated an understanding of the bureaucracies and internal workings of student government that is vital if anything will be accomplished next year.

We also liked that the Beisell/Ozimkowski slate has attainable goals and realizes that accomplishing something tangible next year is vital to reinvesting the campus population in student government. Moral victories are simply no longer enough. Beisell and Ozimkowski realize how important it is for university committee positions to be filled and for the student senate to run effectively. They seem to have a more concrete plan than their opponents for accomplishing these tasks.

Beisell and Ozimkowski must strive to keep their egos in check. Both have a great deal of experience in student government. They know it, and often seem as if they have all the answers and will not run into many problems next year. They will.

What Beisell and Ozimkowski need to focus on is making change on campus-change that will positively affect the entire student body of PSU. Whether it’s obtaining better health care coverage, securing a tuition plateau, or grabbing more respect for PSU through the state budget, Beisell and Ozimkowski need to accomplish, rather than talk about accomplishing.

Their ties to the current ASPSU administration are worrisome, but both candidates have said that they plan to run their administration on their own terms. Beisell and Ozimkowski’s is the more reliable of the two slates and, taking their experience into account, should be able to accomplish something for students.

The other choice: Rudy Soto and Brad Vehafric

Rudy Soto and Brad Vehafric are quality individuals, but their lack of experience in ASPSU is problematic. Soto, with his work with multicultural student groups and the Student Fee Committee, is an especially attractive candidate. He has a positive message and is a genuinely nice person.

Unfortunately, Soto has not demonstrated that he possesses the leadership qualities necessary to lead a body as large and cumbersome as student government. While he is a current member of the SFC, he didn’t show that he has a clear plan of action for taking over ASPSU. In addition, he has much less experience dealing with university administration, a key skill necessary for long-term success.

More troublesome is Vehafric, who failed to demonstrate any working knowledge of ASPSU in his endorsement interview. Vehafric has a breadth of experience with labor unions, but he didn’t clearly demonstrate how that experience would make him an effective leader of the student senate, one of the key responsibilities of the vice president.

In fact, some of Vehafric’s answers dealing with how he would make the student senate run more effectively were childish and misinformed. While we welcome candidates with new ideas and strategies, those ideas must work within the current, established framework to be effective.

In the end, it is Soto and Vehafric’s inexperience that makes them the most likely to fail if elected. PSU needs an effective student government next year, especially with a new university president due to arrive by fall term. Students can’t afford to be left waiting for ASPSU to start functioning properly while they learn the ropes.

SFC chairOur pick: Amanda Newberg

The student fee has risen by at least $30 per term each of the past two years. Amanda Newberg doesn’t promise to end this trend–and we don’t necessarily think she should-but what she will bring as SFC chair is fiscal responsibility and a dedication to following SFC policy. She impressed us with her rational attitude toward allocating student fees and her experience in a wide variety of positions within student government and student groups.

While the Vanguard has endorsed Beisell/Ozimkowski to lead ASPSU next year, we believe that Newberg is committed to running the SFC and will be able to work with either slate’s leaders. She also seems best suited to bringing a more professional attitude to student government’s most important and powerful committee.

Newberg, a Republican, seems especially dedicated to following the SFC policy of viewpoint neutral allocation, a rule whose implementation has been dubious at times this year. We believe Newberg will best balance controlling the bulging student fee with the need to allow student groups the ability to grow.

The other choice: Meghan Mayeda

Meghan Mayeda currently sits on the SFC and in many ways would seem to have more experience than Amanda Newberg. However, we came away from Mayeda’s endorsement interview unimpressed and with serious concerns about how she would run the SFC if elected.

Many of her answers were glib, and she was too stuck in the process of running the SFC, instead of the impact of those actions. Overall, she was the less professional of the two candidates and seemed to operate as if she had already won the position. Indeed, it is this complacency that is the most concerning aspect of her candidacy.