Student Action Sweeps Executive Offices

Photo: President-elect Will Smelko, second from right, celebrates with Student Action members as the ASUC election results are announced.
Anna Vignet/Photo
President-elect Will Smelko, second from right, celebrates with Student Action members as the ASUC election results are announced.

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Student Action Sweeps Election

Tomer Ovadia brings you the results of the 2009 ASUC Elections, as announced at Friday's tabulation.

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Photo: CalSERVE executive candidates Oscar Mairena and Joan Jones react to the election results. CalSERVE will still hold seven seats in the ASUC Senate next year.    

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Marking a dramatic shift in ASUC politics, preliminary results in the 2009 general election, announced last Friday, show the Student Action party swept four executive positions and secured eight seats in the 20-member senate.

Next year's ASUC president will be Will Smelko, Tu Tran will be executive vice president, John Tran will be academic affairs vice president and Dani Haber will be external affairs vice president. Independent candidate Hassan Khan will hold the traditionally non-partisan student advocate office.

The CalSERVE party will maintain a strong presence in the senate with seven seats, while third party candidates and independents will hold the remaining five.

Student Action's victory marks a turnaround in recent ASUC history, with the party controlling four executive positions for the first time since 2006. CalSERVE has maintained control of most executive positions for the past two years, including four this year.

"There's so much work to do," Smelko said. "I'm so excited that this school is going to be in good hands now ... we're going to turn it around for the better."

Whether Student Action will be able to maintain control of the executive positions in the future depends on its ability to deliver on its promises.

"I'll be around the ASUC (next year) for sure and make sure that people stick to what they said," said CalSERVE presidential candidate Oscar Mairena.

Partisan fighting, an unprecedented recall election and financial difficulties have troubled the ASUC this year. Executive Vice President Krystle Pasco said Student Action's campaign successfully associated the CalSERVE party with "negative coverage" of the ASUC in The Daily Californian.

"A part of their campaign strategy (was) to really be critical of what CalSERVE did this year," she said. "It was so strong in the media that students inherently

focused on the negative. They really didn't see both sides of the situation."

She added that Student Action's victory emulated CalSERVE's successful strategies last spring.

"A lot of their tactics resembled our tactics from last year when we swept the executive positions," she said.

Now that elections are over, incoming officials are looking for ways to address problems that have arisen within the ASUC this year.

Tu Tran, who will preside over next year's senate, said mending partisan divides within the senate will depend on developing strong relationships among senators that can transcend party lines.

"I honestly think that senators should try to get to know each other," he said. "I've already organized our first meeting before the semester ends."

He added that such cooperation could shift the focus of senate business away from advocating for specific interests toward addressing issues that affect all students, such as college affordability and revamping Lower Sproul Plaza.

"They are issues that unite us," he said. "(This unity) can alleviate some of the tensions from partisanship."

In addition, six propositions on the ballot amending the ASUC Constitution passed. One of the most prominent changes requires a "statement of specific reasons" rather than a "specific statement of the reasons" in order to certify a recall petition.

Additional changes raise the number of signatures needed to initiate a recall or ballot proposition from 1,000 student signatures to 25 percent of voters in the previous general election and 10 percent of the student body, respectively.

The final three referenda will fix two typos in the ASUC Constitution and eliminate language that requires specific election polling locations.

Student Action senator Tara Raffi, who authored the propositions, said their passage showed students felt the changes were necessary.

"Students invested themselves enough that they took the time to educate themselves and vote 'yes,'" Raffi said.


Contact Tomer Ovadia and Zach E.J. Williams at [email protected]

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