Pablo Garcia wins AS election for presidency
A week before the election results, Pablo Garcia of the S.I.M.B.A slate was in the Organic Learning Garden tending to some herbs and avoiding campaigning with his slate mates in the moderately populated quad. Garcia said the pressure was weighing on him, and working in the garden proved a centering activity.
After a tense election period that included a contentious disqualification, Garcia narrowly beat out independent candidate Courtney King by 26 votes, 591-565, for the Associated Students presidency. Kai Perez of the Si Se Puede slate came in third with 459.
Garcia was still taking in the results on the day of the announcement.
“I am very much honored and humbled for having the students trust in me as their new president,” said Garcia.
At the proper announcement, which consisted of Associate Dean of Student Life Sonali Bridges posting the calculated voting results on the door of the AS Office, current AS President Ty Moura jumped in joy seeing that her commissioner won and will follow her footsteps.
“He came a long way since that summer day when he came for an interview for primary commissioner,” said Moura.
Students commenting on last week’s debate were quick to note Garcia’s quiet presence next to King’s strong and commanding verbal presence. Many of the few present felt King made a lasting impression.
“She had a lot of energy,” said Garcia. “She was enthusiastic and very charismatic, which made the race very close.”
The debate led him and his running mates to increase their one-on-one campaigning, even reaching out to numerous night classes both before their start and during their unofficial break times.
Though he saw King as a large threat, Garcia shared his eagerness to work with her both during the debate and outside of it, now hoping that she joins the board by running for Inter-Club Council Chair. He also has interest in working with Perez, citing his former opponent’s professionalism.
The results did not come with some form of controversy however. King thought the voting process itself was flawed and the election rushed. The voter turnout was a total of 1,795 students, making for approximately six percent of the student body.
“I want Corsair Connect to make people vote before they login, one time,” said King. “The way things are working now, it’s not working, people should participate.”
Despite her dissatisfaction with student participation and the process as a whole, King said she was happy for Garcia.
The new AS Board-elect will be attending a series of parliamentary procedure workshops and a retreat over the summer in order to prepare for their new roles which they officially start in the fall.
Garcia is eager to get to know all of his constituents, even beforehand, and working with them and anyone else who chooses.
“It’s all about working together, I am only one person,” said Garcia. “I’m going to be counting on having people who are really motivated and want to work.”
One of the first items on Garcia's agenda is addressing SMC's numerous clubs.
“As soon as I catch up on some homework, I plan to sit down and work out the logistics of how I want to go about working with clubs, because it’s going to be a big task,” said Garcia. “But it’s something that I’m really passionate about and I really want to see happen.”
Another major issue Garcia wants to address is textbook cost. He acknowledged that the AS does not wield the power to deal with the issue directly, but would open lines with the faculty on providing more affordable access for textbooks.
One way he hopes to address the issue is by following the current AS's example of the Student Success Award to provide funds for students to easily afford their textbooks.
Elsewhere in the election, the most voted on position was for Director of Student Outreach with 1,617 voters, where Si Se Puede earned a win with Robert Espinoza taking 46.3 percent of the vote.
Emmanuel Kapella of the Real Change slate won the position of Director of Student Affairs with 63.7 percent of the vote. Jessica Meshkani pulled off a similar victory for their slate winning the Director of Publicity position with 59.5 percent of the vote.
Andrew Koo and Diana Gutierrez won for Director of Activities and Director of Student Advocacy respectively for S.I.M.B.A., each with over 300 votes more than their nearest competition. Jeffrey Lewis, an independent, won the position of Director of Instructional & Technical Support.
Real Change had other winners with no opposition with Daniel Kolko for Student Trustee, Cinthia Magana for Secretary, and Howard Kim for Director of Budget Management. Other unopposed winners were Ali Khan for Vice-President, Ariel Mok for Director of Academic Support & Shared Governance, and Andrea Gonzalez for Director of Sustainability.
Outside of the candidates, recent amendments to the AS constitution were passed with an 85.2 percent Yes vote.