AS presidential candidates debate as opportunity to campaign before elections

Associated Students election season is on at Santa Monica College as the 2015 AS presidential candidates and their slates gathered at the quad on Tuesday to discuss everything from distance between students and their government as well as the mainstay issues of parking and the price of textbooks.

With less than a week to prepare for the debate and less than a week before elections, the potential heirs to the throne were given one minute intervals to discuss common student concerns, features of SMC they would like to keep, as well as what they would like to change, and why ultimately they are the best fit for the job.

Commenting on the frequently brought up issue of overpriced text books, candidate of the 'Excellence' slate Trae Smith asked, "How can we increase the GPA rate and the transfer rate at SMC if students can’t afford the simple essentials to afford these classes?”

The president and founder of the Generation of the Future club vaguely spoke about a proposal for a "textbook borrowers program" that would allow for students with financial instability the opportunity to borrow books for a semester if they are evidently unable to afford them.

Smith stated his desire to increase job rates on campus by attracting more companies to SMC's Job Fair as well as additional funding for clubs who may be restricted by the current budget they have to work with.

Opposing Smith was Jesse Randel representing the "Reading Rainbow" slate. The former Boy Scout and student veteran spoke heavily on increasing the overall benefits for students which varied from lowering book prices to free transportation on the Expo Line extension that is slated to be gracing Santa Monica in 2016.

Randel said he strives to "make the pursuit of higher education and a brighter future attainable to all students regardless of financial background or where you're from."

When talking about the lack of communication between the student government and the school's administration, Randel shared how his six years in the United States Air Force fueled his belief that unity between students, student government, and school administration is essential for a better campus and system.

Having the most prior experience as a current AS board member, Joel Goldszer, member of the "Hi-FIve" slate, cited his nearly two years at SMC as the main reason he can make a difference within the school.

“I know a lot of the things that are wrong with this school and through my experience and through everything I’ve learned I can really help us out and I can really change SMC for the better and make your lives a lot better," said Goldszer.

The debate concluded with a brief Q&A segment as the presidential nominees along with the rest of the AS board candidates answered students' inquiries about policies on cheating, student and administration relationships, and even possible war in the Middle East.

Elections will take place April 6-9 at voting stations on the quad and online through Corsair Connect, as the candidates prepare for the final stretch of their presidential campaigns. This game of thrones will be decided on Friday, April 10.