Matt Crowley/The AS Review
With the filing period for AS elections opening last Monday, the Associated Students board of directors has considered a new proposal addressing campaign expenses, one aspect of campaigning which, in light of the current economic trend, may become more salient in the coming years.
The proposal, which was not approved, would have provided each candidate with a reimbursement of $100 for their campaign expenses (signs, pins, etc.).
The cost of campaigning can be an added stress for candidates and the proposal may help ease some of that stress. There are other benefits as well.
“It could get more candidates running. The quality of campaigns could be better,” AS VP for Activities Colin Watrin said. “The purpose makes sense to me.”
But Watrin and other members of the board have a number of concerns. Is there potential for abuse? What defines a campaign expense? Is there enough time to consider all the issues involved before elections roll around?
Probably the biggest concern stems from where the reimbursement money would come from. The proposal assumes that a maximum of 25 candidates will run, meaning that a total of $2,500 would need to be allocated from the AS Elections budget.
Recently, AS VP for Business and Operations Virgilio Cintron posted a thread on Western’s Viking Village forum asking students what they thought about student fees being used to support candidates’ campaign costs. The response? Overwhelmingly negative. While some agreed that the proposal could benefit the elections, the idea ultimately didn’t sit well. Why pay for a candidate you may not even know or support?
Ultimately, the board didn’t like it either, deciding at a board meeting on Feb. 24 to move consideration of the proposal to a later date, likely next year.
“For now the process seems really rushed and I don’t want to push for something that doesn’t feel thought out,” Watrin said, who voted against the proposal.
While the future of the proposal remains to be seen, the election will go on.
On Monday, April 26, voting for AS elections will begin to choose the next seven students to sit on the AS board of directors. To vote, log on to MyWestern.
AS VP for Governmental Affairs Morgan Holmgren knows what the elections are like, despite running unopposed last spring.
“Your free time kind of disappears. As a candidate you spend all of your free time trying to be in Red Square or other places where you’re able to really get your name and your voice out there,” he said.
Holmgren also noted the importance of using other methods to reach out to students.
“I did use Viking Village a fair amount and that was definitely a helpful resource,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it necessarily plays a large role, but it’s a good way to get your platform out there in a more detailed way than what Facebook allows.”
Running for a position can be daunting. It involves a lot of paperwork, a lot of meetings and a lot of talking, things that might not be every student’s cup of tea. So while patience and a good work ethic are solid qualities to have as a candidate, there are other things to keep in mind.
“I think what is most important for candidates to know is that your resume is really not the most important determining factor in whether you win or lose in an election,” said Holmgren. “It’s more about the hard work and it’s more about the charisma and your personality than it is about the resume or the other issues that are going on. The candidates who won are the candidates who worked the hardest.”