Courtney Taylor

ASR: What experience do you have that qualifies you for the position you're running for?

Taylor: I'd say that I have just enough experience in politics to know how to work within the system. I was an assistant campaign manager on a library campaign…we brought two new libraries to Vancouver. I have informally met a lot of politicians because it's part of my major, so I've had the opportunity to talk to quite a few local politicians about what their job is like and what it really means, and the best way for me to break onto that scene because it's what I want to do. So I know them and I'm friends with them. Like Tim Douglas who was the last interim mayor of Bellingham. We had lunch a few weeks ago and we talked live and politics and stuff.

But beyond that my experience is really in the leadership realm. Here at Western I've been an RA [Resident Advisor] for two years, I was an orientation student advisor and then a lead orientation student advisor the next year for summer start, and so I really do know the systems within Western and how they govern us. So I kind of want to find a balance between those two, of knowing the system but also being able to effect change, and I think my experience has really helped me to learn how to do that the best way.

ASR: What are your three biggest goals for next year if you get this job?

Taylor: Recently, actually, I came up with a new goal. Yesterday in my Medicine, Health and Healing class, we just started talking about women's health in the class, and it keeps coming up, because I consider myself a feminist, and I have a few friends in that class, and we just keep bringing it up. It's something I've found that's lacking on our campus is alternative forms of health as well as prioritizing women's health and the education around that. So that's something that I've just recently decided would be really awesome to do in my job.

But I also really want to tackle voter apathy, because I have a bunch of friends that don't vote, and I don't hate on them for it. I try to be more understanding, because what it really comes down to is it's a lot of work to research the issues out there, and people just don't have the time, and I would rather not vote than make an uneducated decision. So really what I want to focus on is educating our students on the issues, but not through traditional means.

I would totally be willing to make a YouTube video of myself looking like a fool if it helps to educate our students, or finding a way through Facebook. I'm really familiar with surveying through the residence halls, and I really think it would be awesome to do some surveys through the school to find out what people know, what they don't know, and what they'd like to know more about, and really get heavy into that.

My last issue of course it bringing politics back to Western. We spend a lot of time and money down in Olympia, and unfortunately we don't get a lot of return on that, which is really sad, but because we're students, we can go down there and lobby all we want, but we don't really vote, so we can put all this money into lobbying, but really, our voice doesn't matter as much as it should.

So instead of wasting our money on that, I'd like to maybe focus more on the rules and regulations that are within Western that we don't really have a voice, and I feel that in our campus, the administration and people who are paid long term positions have more voice than the students who actually are paying to go here.

ASR: What are one or two decisions the board made this year that you disagree with, or that you would change?

Taylor: I have a really hard time making a statement like that, just because I am a leader, and I feel like criticizing people for doing the best that they can is really really hard for me. I thinki my two biggest criticisms: One would be that the comprehensiveness of our legislative agenda that we took down to Olympia this year, there were a lot of issues that Western had a say on, and I think that it would be better if we could get a more concise list of stuff that is directed at us specifically.

We get a lot of pro-environment stuff, which is really good, but at the same time they don't really care about our voice, so we've kind of wasted our time making statements about that. I feel like that's a common theme, is that we spend a lot of time and energy on stuff that could be used better somewhere else.

I feel like the length of time that we've been dealing with the skateboard issue has been really frustrating for me because that's an issue that is low-range. There are certain people that might care about it, but we've spent a lot of time dealing with it over at least the three years that I've been here, and we need to come to some sort of consensus. That means that our student senate isn't very effective, and that we really aren't getting as many student voices on this issue as we would like.

ASR: What past or present political leader do you identify with?

Taylor: Probably Eleanor Roosevelt. She was really known for making a position out of nothing. Prior to her, the first lady didn't really do a whole lot. And that's the type of person I am. I would love to have this position as a title, but that's not why I'm doing it. I'm going to do a lot of other things that I say I'm doing regardless of whether I get this position or not, and that's totally Eleanor Roosevelt. She was the one that was like, “You know what, I don't care that I'm just first lady, there are a lot of things that I care about and I have a voice too,” so she really used that to the best of her ability.

I've been an RA for two years now, and I'm one of the most active RA's that I know. I served on several committees lasts year. I've done lots of new innovative things that go above and beyond the regular RA requirements. I organized and put on two programs a quarter, and I organized an entire week of programming around diversity, just because that's something that I'm really passionate about, and that's totally the type of person I am. I say I'm going to do something, and I do it, and I go above and beyond anybody's expectations.

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Sarah Ishmael

ASR: What experience do you have that qualifies you for the position you're running for?

Ishmael: I am currently the legislative liaison for the Associated Students of Western. I work for the board of directors underneath the Vice President of Legislative Affairs. I am currently the Washington Student Lobby vice president of recruitment and retention. I came up with the idea for the Students for Civic Engagement Club, because I was in Olympia, I had the vice president carry out the action of actually creating a club.

I have created a lot of forums and talked to many students about their opinions about legislative issues. I'm very publicly known for asking students about that. Because of my representational field, I believe senators and representatives and congressman, I believe I'm most qualified to represent Western to the Whatcom City Council and to the Bellingham City Council and to the Mayor's Neighborhood Advisory Committee.

ASR: What are your three biggest goals for next year if you get this job?

Ishmael: My three biggest goals next year would be making the 2008 presidential election fun, hassle-free, and an opportunity for students to really become educated about presidential candidates. My first goal is to really inform students of the power that they have. In doing that, I would make the legislative affairs office more known. Nobody really knows that the legislative affairs council is made up of students that decide our state agenda, and decide our federal agenda.

Students need to know that they can come to the legislative affairs council and not only be on it, but hold a public forum and discuss and decide what we as an associated student body, talk about in the legislature and in congress, and really focus on empowering students, and giving them the power to be that change.

My third goal would be to work intensely on the issues that students care about locally. For example, transportation, green transportation, the environment, and making sure that their issues, for example, parking tickets, and making sure that students can communicate with the administration, and that they have proper representation, and someone actually that knows how to stick up for them, and stick up for us with those entities.

One thing also I want to highlight about my first point: One of my specific goals is to bring the Ethnic Students Center and students who are underrepresented, and the LGBTA [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Alliance] community, and make sure that that gap is bridged.

ASR: What are one or two decisions the board made this year that you disagree with, or that you would change?

Ishmael: There was an event brought forth by the ROP [Resources and Outreach Program] that I felt should have been funded a bit more than it was given. I won't say which event. It was a good program, and I felt they made a good case and a good presentation, and while I agree with the board that they shouldn't have gotten entire funding, they definitely should have gotten more than what was given.

ASR: What past or present political leader do you identify with?

Ishmael: Senator Maria Cantwell. She started a listening tour around the state in which she went to college campus and she talked to students, and I am very much of that mind, where in order to actually represent the students and have the students trust you, you can't just give them your business card and say that you're listening to them, which is what I see a lot of candidates doing.

I very much identify with her going to students—they don't always have to go to you, you can come to them—and actively listening, and making sure that they know that they're voice is heard, and that they're empowered by that. That's what I see in Senator Cantwell, and that's what I'd want to see next quarter.

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Daniel McLafferty

ASR: What experience do you have that qualifies you for the position you're running for?

McLafferty: I actually work directly for the position that I'm running for. Erik Lowe, he's the current VP [Vice President] for Legislative and Governmental Affairs, and I'm his assistant. I work directly with him on nearly every single project that he's been involved with, so I have a lot of direct experience with all those responsibilities that I'll be faced with next year should I become the VP for Legislative and Governmental Affairs.

I'm president of Students for Civic Engagement, which is a club about local involvement and political involvement. I've experienced lobbying the state legislature on WWU Lobby Day. All those give me pretty good experience with every responsibility I'll have at the job.

ASR: What are your three biggest goals for next year if you get this job?

McLafferty: The environment is going to be a big priority of mine. This year in the legislature, a lot of the environmental bills that were coming up were dropped. Next year there's going to be a lot more money because it's a bigger session, so I'm going to make a much bigger push for those. I'm trying to get the Washington Student Lobby a lot more interested in the environment even though this year it wasn't one of their main priorities. A second priority of mine would be to get all of the things that we weren't able to accomplish this year accomplished next year. There were a lot of bills that we pushed for this year that the governor ended up vetoing, just because the budget was too big this year than what the governor set for student spending.

It was a good reason, they just didn't have enough money to accommodate every single thing that was approved through the legislature. So we're going to be trying to push those things through, and those include a child care bill, a campus safety bill, and also a bill that was meant to ease the process by which students could transfer credits from school to school. All those things we're going to push for this year.

Another big thing that's coming up is getting more capital funding to increase disability access around campus, because that's been a huge issue…we really do need to improve access in a lot of buildings. Miller Hall isn't at all wheelchair accessible. It doesn't even have a wheelchair-accessible bathroom, and the closest one that has one is the humanities building. So those would be three of my goals. There are a lot more goals that I have relating to things such as diversity, LGBT issues, obviously decreasing fees that students have to pay is always going to be a huge issue.

ASR: What are one or two decisions the board made this year that you disagree with, or that you would change?

McLafferty: One decision I think should have been deliberated a little bit more on—there was a voter-funded media project that was denied, and I feel that would have been a really good way to jumpstart the election this year and get rid of voter apathy. There were good reasons to deny it, but I think maybe it should have been considered a little bit more than it was. I thought it was dropped without looking into possible fixes for a lot of the problems that were seen with it.

And I think a lot of money was spent earlier on in the year on helping out other offices with programming events. Obviously, programming is something you want to do, but it restricted the amount of money the board was able to loan to other offices later in the year. Especially during winter quarter, there had to be a lot of denials for underwrites and loans to certain offices and clubs that were trying to put on programs because of the amount that was spent in fall quarter, so I would try to even out the amount that was let out across the year so that there is a steady flow of programs of good quality being funded by the board.

ASR: What past or present political leader do you identify with?

McLafferty: It's hard to narrow it down to one, just because there are so many different issues out there, and I agree with a lot of different political leaders. To be honest, I'd rather just strive to be my own individual. I don't really want to be identified with a specific political figure. I don't really want to walk in any of their shadows. I don't believe that I follow the specific path that any leader would. There are always issues that are going to be contentious between different people.

I wouldn't identify completely with any political leader really, but there are different issues on which I agree with different politicians. I hope people think of me as Daniel McLafferty, the VP for Legislative and Governmental Affairs.

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Jake Lunden

ASR: What experience do you have that qualifies you for the position you're running for?

Lunden: There's a few things. First of all, I lobbied down in Olympia on behalf of the Washington Student Lobby and with Young Democrats of Washington. I'm the PR [Public Relations] Director for Washington State Young Democrats, and while I know this is a non-partisan position, and I intend to represent all students, I have a lot of really strong contacts with the democratic party, and I know that those contacts will be very beneficial if I'm elected, and it will open a lot of doors for Western. I'm not going to push the Democratic agenda on Western, but I'm going to use the democratic party to push Western's agenda.

ASR: What are your three biggest goals for next year if you get this job?

Lunden: We have to do a massive voter registration drive, by Oct. 4, because that's the cut-off, and I know I can do that, because in the run up to the caucuses I personally registered over 300 people to vote, and I know if I was elected to this position, I could use that influence to get more people registered to vote, and I would make that a priority. The second part of that is launching a massive “get out the vote” effort when the election does come around.

Number two, I want to increase civic engagement on campus, and I'd do that by getting candidates up here debating, and I'd try to host as many forums as I can with candidates so that students could let them know the issues that matter to us. And thirdly, I want to work to push Western's agenda, be it our federal agenda, state agenda, or right here in the city of Bellingham. And Western does have a legislative agenda that the legislative affairs council has formed, and this job you share with the legislative affairs council, and they can amend or change or adjust the agenda, and they do that every year.

One thing that's very important is getting rid of sales tax on text books, because over the course of a four or five year education, that can save a student hundreds of dollars. Some other things are ensuring that our tuition stays low. Right now it's capped at 5 per cent, it can't raise more than 5 per cent a year.

What I'd really like to see us do is lobby to pass the Dream Act, which is a proposed piece of federal legislation that would allow students who were brought to America as children illegally, meaning their parents were illegal immigrants, so they were brought here without a choice. When they finish high school, they don't really have an opportunity to go to college because they're non-citizens, and this would provide citizenship and access to higher education for those students, and it's a lot of people.

Fifty-five thousand qualified high school students graduate every year, and they can't go on to college because they're technically illegal immigrants, even though some of them may have been in America for 16 or 17 years, and they didn't break any rules, because it was by no choice of their own, and it's really important to me that we get that passed.

ASR: What are one or two decisions the board made this year that you disagree with, or that you would change?

Lunden: For the most part I've been pretty happy with the board this year. There's no one specific decision that I really disagree with, but it's really important that when people go to vote, they remember that their candidate is not just going to be doing the job they got elected to do, like [VP of] Legislative and Governmental Affairs, or [VP of] Diversity; they're going to be making decisions that affect the entire AS and student body on campus.

I'm a candidate that brings experience not only from the political aspect, but also, I served on the activities council and the diversity task force, and I'm also involved in three AS clubs. I've also been on campus longer than all the other candidates, and I feel that I know the AS very well and would be most qualified to represent Western students.

ASR: What past or present political leader do you identify with?

Lunden: I want to say Obama. I remember one time when I was reading Obama's first book, “Dreams of My Father,” and he talked about when he was in college, and being so poor that he was eating soup out of a can, and I've been there, and for the first time in my life, I realized we have a presidential candidate who knows what it's like to be a poor student, and is not from an elite background, and who's worked really hard to get ahead, and succeeded, and for me to see that is so inspiring, because I'm working hard just to pay my tuition, pay my rent, pay for overpriced textbooks, just like everyone else here.