Vanguard endorsements

Voting in student government elections is one of the most important duties we have as students, because it is part of our democratic responsibility and the work that those who are elected do significantly impacts what kind of experience each of us has at Portland State.

Voting in student government elections is one of the most important duties we have as students, because it is part of our democratic responsibility and the work that those who are elected do significantly impacts what kind of experience each of us has at Portland State.

Polls for this year’s election open Monday, and there are three candidates running for ASPSU president, two Student Fee Committee chair candidates and eight students vying for six member positions on the SFC.

To provide some insight to help make your voting decisions, the Vanguard conducted interviews with all the aforementioned candidates over the past week. Based on those interviews and knowledge of each candidate’s experience and campaign, the Vanguard Editorial Board made its endorsements.

Endorsement decisions reflect the sentiment of the entire editorial board and not any one individual or group of individuals.

Research the candidates thoroughly and familiarize yourself with this year’s top issues, and don’t forget to vote. Polls open Monday, May 4 at 8 a.m. at

ASPSU President

VG pick: Jonathan Sanford and Rebekah Chitsaz
As the student body president, your campus and its students should be your No. 1 priority at all times. Sanford and Chitsaz understand this and have proven it by campaigning in the South Park Blocks and elsewhere on campus more than any other candidates during this year’s election.

It was not uncommon to see the excitable Sanford shaking hands and speaking with students in the Park Blocks over the past few weeks. He and running mate Chitsaz have demonstrated a genuine care for Portland State and a desire to make the experience better for all students.

From speaking passionately about canned food drives for students to the student-parent daycare co-op that his slate is working on to his harsh and honest criticisms of the SFC, Sanford has shown that he recognizes what is important to this non-traditional student body and is committed to ensuring that students are engaged and feel included.

Sanford, a student veteran, also boasts an impressive list of political allies, as he has worked with Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, former Rep. Darlene Hooley and as U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley’s veterans adviser.

Both Sanford and Chitsaz have been involved with student groups on campus and have made a concerted effort in their campaign to vow that they wish to pull together often divided student populations, such as Jewish and Arab-Persian student groups.

While we believe Sanford’s charisma and energy would be beneficial to holding the presidential position, we caution that he is judicious about his forceful usage of it.

And Chitsaz seems to be an involved, engaged student leader, but is at times a bit reserved. She will need to be more outgoing if she wishes to lead a successful student senate next year.

Collin LaVallee and Christopher Proudfoot

Both involved in the current student government administration, LaVallee and Proudfoot have shown that they are invested in lobbying in Salem on the behalf of Portland State students.

However, we question how committed the pair would be to addressing issues on campus next year if elected. The Sanford-Chitsaz slate campaigned on campus much more the past couple weeks and proved that they wished to reach out to students and hear their concerns.

LaVallee is much less charismatic then Sanford and at times his stoicism made it appear that he was not fully invested in running as a presidential candidate. LaVallee was originally running as a vice presidential candidate for Theo Malone, however, when Malone was ruled ineligible, LaVallee replaced him.

Proudfoot’s willingness to speak confidently about the slate’s platform issues made him seem more like the presidential candidate than LaVallae, and we feel this slate might have received our endorsement had the two switched positions.

Sean Staub and Kyle Juedes 
Staub and Juedes claimed to be running to represent the “regular student,” and we agree that voice is necessary in ASPSU. However, the Staub-Juedes slate needs more experience before it is ready to make an impact the magnitude of the two highest offices on the ASPSU Executive Staff.

The pair had the most focused campaign platform, with most of their issues centering on improving sustainability, but we believe the scope, and their knowledge base, was too narrow to be successful as president and vice president.

Student Fee Committee Chair
VG pick: Jil Heimensen

In a narrow and heavily debated decision, we have decided to endorse Heimensen for the SFC chair position due to her experience as a professional and her organized approach. Her opponent Johnnie Ozimkowski is much more familiar with Portland State and its student groups, however, we view Heimensen as more prepared to handle the position.

While Heimensen has been a Portland State student for only a couple terms, she has accumulated a wealth of business experience prior to coming to campus, which should serve her well if elected to the challenging position of SFC chair.

Heimensen gained budgetary experience while working to establish her own business and is more than comfortable with numbers. She is also technologically savvy, and has already created a Web site for next year’s SFC in an effort to improve transparency and student involvement in the student-fee allocation process.

One of Heimensen’s goals is to refrain from raising the student fee, which will reach $218 next year, by cutting the “fat from the budget.” Transparency is also paramount in her mind, as she wants to take audio or video from SFC meetings and equip the Web site with a blog to foster dialogue between members and students.

In some ways the ceiling might be higher for Ozimkowski to have a more successful stint as chair, however, with her maturity, leadership potential and organizational skills, Heimensen is the safer, and better, choice following one of the most tumultuous years for the SFC in recent memory.

Johnnie Ozimkowski
Ozimkowski has been involved with student government in the past and has associations with student groups across campus, providing him with an excellent perspective of what these groups need and their traditions.

He is in favor of not raising the student fee and wants to make student groups’ budgets more efficient through cutting unnecessary costs and looking for cheaper options. Additionally, better communication with groups and departments to ensure a smoother budget process has been one of Ozimkowski’s promises for next year.

While we do not doubt his knowledge of the university or pulse on its students, we feel Ozimkowski lacks some of the leadership skills and professional experience that Heimensen possesses, making her ideal for the position.

SFC Member Candidates
James Gent

Gent, part of Greek Life and three other student groups, is as involved as a student can be. This gives him an edge because he knows the budgeting process intimately, however, we do worry that he will be too busy to fulfill all of his duties. Regardless, he wants to give back to the university and he does bring a unique perspective as part of the small but growing Greek Life system.

Christian P. Messerschmitt
Messerschmitt said he wants to represent Portland State’s growing number of international students. From Germany, he has relevant experience from his time with student groups in his home country, and he also seemed mature and organized—traits that this year’s SFC have often lacked. Messerschmitt also had a clear understanding of viewpoint neutrality and said if elected he would pursue a more efficient fee allocation process.

Aly Rey
Rey is a business student who has been heavily active in extracurricular activities, including as a student ambassador for the past two years. While we were unimpressed with her lack of specific knowledge concerning the SFC budgeting process, she was the only candidate to acknowledge the difference between the SFC and the other umbrella organization for student groups, the Student Organizational Council. We hope Rey brings a sense of balance to the committee and is able to use her enthusiasm for the job to the SFC’s benefit.

Danny Sobolev
Sobolev said he wants to make the budgeting process simple and straightfoward, but we hope that he takes the time to make sure he understands the process first. While Sobolev is an accounting major, his lack of specifics during his endorsement interview was somewhat alarming. Still, he seemed very passionate and willing to put the necessary time in to have a successful year.

Waddah Sofan

Sofan is the only candidate running with prior SFC experience. While the current committee had its share of problems, Sofan provides institutional memory, and hopefully the ability to learn from mistakes. We remain slightly concerned about Sofan’s desire to keep using the SFC to push student group diversity, yet we feel the risks don’t outweigh the benefit of having at least one member on the committee who has done the job before.

William Zimmers

Zimmers, a graduate student pursuing a degree in urban studies, has a firm grasp of the student fee allocating process. He seems interested in making sure that any money groups are allocated is justified and spent in a way that benefit as many students possible. He also seemed to understand the concept of viewpoint neutrality and the liaison system, two key elements to a successful SFC member.