The City College cafeteria was abuzz with numerous candidates running for the upcoming Associated Student (AS) government board at the AS election debates April 29.
The afternoon de-bate was the first of two sessions made available for the students to hear the candidates’ platforms and to ask numerous questions concerning issues at City College.
All five vice president and presidential candidates were in attendance, as well as many senator candidates. Dean of Student Affairs Denise Whisenhunt was also in the crowd, offering students paper to write down their questions for the candidates.
Elections Commissioner Kiedra Taylor mediated the event and stressed that students “exercise their right to vote” May 3-5 either online or by paper ballot at the AS office.
VP hopefuls share their views
AS Senator Isis Mubutu and former TRIO assistant Mayra Edgar came forward for the vice president position in this year’s election.
Edgar was the founder of City Dreams, helping students with transfers to four-year universities while she was a communications assistant with TRIO at City College. Edgar is running as a Team KLUE (Knights Loyal to Unity and Education) member.
Edgar shared that she wanted to bring together students and clubs and make the campus “more family orientated.”
Edgar also stressed the importance of going green campus wide.
“There are so many things we can do,” Edgar said. “Recycle cans, recycle paper. see a leak on campus? Call up facilities and report it.”
Even though Mubutu is currently working on numerous bills for all different types of city students, she noted that her No. 1 pet peeve was the lack of communication between classrooms and students.
“If we had a shooter on campus right now, there’d be no way to inform the students,” Mubutu said.
She shared her work on fighting to keep classes on campus after winter intersession was cancelled.
She also is currently working on support for the large homeless population of students on campus with programs like Cal Works.
During the question portion of the debate, the vice presidential candidates were given one minute to respond.
When asked how the candidates could better divide money to clubs, Edgar described how clubs are required to turn in how funds would exactly be used. If elected, she would ask that the clubs provide even more information to secure their funds.
Mubutu felt that a lot of clubs “have become complacent expecting the money.”
She thought it important that clubs participate in all Inter Club Council meetings and “not just show up when they need the money.”
When the candidates were asked about current legislation they were involved in, Edgar noted that she wasn’t currently working with legislators, but that she did participate in numerous budget-cut marches throughout the school year. She plans to work with legislators in the near future.
Mubutu worked with numerous legislators on issues like having four-year degrees for nursing and engineering here on campus and an oil tax for oil companies to funnel money towards education.
Mubutu also helped with a bill to give City students back transfer priority to universities like San Diego State University.
Presidential candidates man the podium at the election debates
Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) Business Manager and San Diego Mesa College Treasurer Omar Miyazaki explained that watching “the reduction of staff and budget cuts is bad,” but that he’s pleased to see activities and events still happening on campus.
He shared that experience alone doesn’t make a leader. He said his “sense of justice to defend students’ rights” and “spirit of innovation” make him a “top candidate.”
AS Vice President Abdulkadir Ahmed shared that this past year has given him the tools to “make change” this coming year. Ahmed is also running as a Team KLUE candidate.
His focus lies in decreasing fees for students, starting a peer-to-peer counseling program integrating current and past City students and uniting the clubs on campus.
ICC President and Spanish Club president Beto Vasquez opened with the past election’s voter turnout statistic, noting that “only 200 people (a little over 1 percent)” voted out of more than 18,000 students.
“We need to actually get associated with the student body,” Vasquez said.
He shared his platform of wanting to give back to the community and finding alternatives for cheaper textbooks and more parking.
When asked what the candidates thought were important roles presidents play, Miyazaki noted that presidents have to tackle “big issues and small issues.”
“A president can’t be biased,” Ahmed said, in reference to the same question. “A president has to be involved and represent students first.”
Vasquez echoed Ahmed’s stance, saying if he were elected president that his “role (would be) to remain unbiased, fair and selfless.”
The question was asked as to whether such a young group of candidates would be able to speak for the needs of the older students on campus. All the candidates took the question in stride.
“Being young is not a violation,” Ahmed said as he laughed. “All of us are young because all of us are students.”
“I’m not that young,” Vasquez chimed in. “I was here 10 years ago and I was screwing up, but what matters is now.”
Miyazaki added that regardless of age, “we all have basic needs as students, young and old.”
When asked about the numerous rallies and protests from this past year and if they’re effective, all candidates could agree that power in numbers sends a message.
All the candidates also stood in support of assembly bill AB 540, giving undocumented students the opportunity to go to school, and HUBU (Hermanos Unidos Brothers United), a group dedicated to bringing all students together regardless of race.
The debate carried an overall theme of unity, both in the candidates’ platform and among competitors.
“Regardless of who wins, I still support my elective peers,” Miyazaki said. “It’s all about working together.”
Vasquez added that he “didn’t need a title to be a leader.” He would still be active on campus, president or not.