A.S. elections near end as candidates struggle to find audience

The scent of fresh baked macadamia chocolate chip cookies wafted through the air of the Cayton Center lounge as students gathered in groups filling the room. The cookies weren’t the only thing out of the ordinary; the candidates running for next year’s Associated Students board were holding their official meet and greet, but just like the free cookies meant to lure in the surrounding students, few were taking notice to them. The AS elections kicked off on March 25 when candidates officially announced their campaigns to the SMC student voting public, giving candidates only two weeks to campaign and reach out to students with their platforms. They were given only a few days notice for their debate on Tuesday, March 31, in which student Precious Onuohah asked candidates “How are you supposed to relate to the students, and come impact with the students, when the majority of us don’t know who you guys are?”

Vice presidential candidate Kevin Picard on the HI-Five slate said yesterday at the meet and greet, “How many students on campus knew about the debate?” He expressed a concern many candidates did for outreach and publicity in the AS.

Jonathan Eady, running for student trustee on the Reading Rainbow slate, thought there needed to be a more “boots on the ground” approach to publicity for elections and the lowly applied Student Success Awards.

“I think the students should have more time to vet and look at their candidates and see what they have to offer,” said Eady. “I think when it comes to informing the students, there shouldn’t be much push-backs against letting students know what’s available as far as opportunities for them.”

Second-year SMC student Hessel Pineda believes that the lack of participation in elections lies with voters. “These things [election turnouts] are never really high because people never really take this seriously in the sense that they don’t really pay attention," he said. “I’d like to think that they [college students] are interested, there are some people that are interested in what happens in the elections. That is only if they are taking everything that they do here seriously.”

Though there are three candidates running for president, seven of the other candidates are running unopposed, while the position of director of advocacy has no candidates running for it.

Former director of outreach Robert Espinoza, who had the most votes of any candidates in last year’s elections, said “I think they could be doing a lot more. I remember last year I was here every single day getting more votes.”

Last year, candidates had almost an entire month to build their platforms and campaign. Candidates made and posted signs, posters, buttons, and even campaigned in matching t-shirts.

Inter-Club Council Chair Maya Kaitel, who is also the chair of the elections committee, said the short amount of time given to campaigning and elections is not something out of the ordinary. “A lot of that [one week of campaigning] is just to do with timing. Spring break is happening super soon, and we want it to happen before spring break so candidates can get some time to get oriented to spend some time in the office, look into their positions, all that,” she says. “If we do it after spring break, we’re worried they’re not really gonna have that much time.”

Voting for the AS elections is open online through Corsair Connect until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday April 9. If students vote at a designated polling place on campus between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. by the last day of voting, they receive a free snack.