Two will vie for MSA presidency; GAPSA job uncontested

Names of the candidates for student government election will not be released until they are official.

Two will vie for MSA presidency; GAPSA job uncontested

Jenna Wilcox

 

Candidates looking to become the next student government leaders are gearing up for the campus-wide election in April.

Filings for positions closed at 4:30 p.m. Friday and, over the next few weeks, candidates must prove why they deserve to govern the University of Minnesota student body.

The general election will be held April 2-4.

Two pairs of candidates will contend for president and vice president of the Minnesota Student Association, but candidates are unofficial until they receive 500 signature endorsements from students and submit them to the All Campus Elections Commission by March 9.

This year only one person expressed interest in the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly presidency.

Candidates’ names will not be released until they are official. They were allowed to begin campaigning Feb. 6.

Rylee Ahnen, chairman of the ACEC, which oversees the process, said there have been uncontested candidates in previous years but it might result in lower voter turnout.

“Hopefully ACEC can work closer with GAPSA next year to encourage interest,” Ahnen said.

While there is no opportunity for a write-in candidate, he said there is still no guarantee the lone candidate will win the election.

“They do have to follow rules, so if something were to occur there is a possibility they wouldn’t be able to run,” he said.

Once candidates are finalized, Northrop Mall will be home to a voter awareness campaign March 23. The event will be an informal meet-and-greet where students can get to know the candidates and their positions.

ACEC will also host a debate for MSA candidates March 27.

Since there is only one candidate for GAPSA president, Ahnen said the March 29 GAPSA debate will likely be an open forum to ask questions.

In previous years, ACEC advisers wrote the debate questions, but students will have the opportunity to submit questions of their own this year.

“We’re really working to engage students for a higher voter turnout,” Ahnen said.

Last year, the number of GAPSA voters more than doubled to 1,549 compared to 668 in 2010.

MSA voting remained comparable the past two years with 3,428 in 2011 and 3,469 in 2010.

Marissa Suiter, ACEC adviser, said they don’t yet know how students will submit questions for the candidates, but are working on a plan in the coming weeks.

This time last year

MSA president Lizzy Shay said the time she spent running for president last year was really intense because it consumed her life.

“Every conversation turned into a conversation about the election because I was so invested in it,” she said. Shay will not run for reelection this year.

The hardest part for Shay was dealing with personal attacks against her.

“It’s hard to step back and realize [the candidates] are under pressure and this is probably not what they really feel,” she said. “You have to have a thick skin.”

Even though Shay said she was the subject of a few hurtful comments, winning the election was one of the greatest things that ever happened to her.

Her advice to the candidates this year is to make promises that they are willing to keep and maintain a positive campaign.

“Just stick to the facts and don’t tear down other candidates,” she said.