GAPSA presidential candidates debate

A write-in candidate for GAPSA president didn’t participate in Wednesday night’s forum.

Cody Nelson

Three candidates participated in a Graduate and Professional Student Assembly presidential debate Wednesday night, but each of them backed the same platform.

Two of the three candidates — all current members of GAPSA’s executive board — plan to drop out of the race before the election. But one Council of Graduate Students member, Scott Petty,  plans to challenge the remaining candidate.

“I am the alternative to the team,” he said.

Petty was outside Coffman Union’s Mississippi Room where the debate took place, but he didn’t attend or participate in discussion.

Petty, who is also a voting member of GAPSA, said information about the presidential election and filing process wasn’t communicated well to the GAPSA general assembly. He said he wasn’t aware of the upcoming election until he saw a Minnesota Daily article about it last week.

“I read every [GAPSA] email,” he said, adding that he also attends every GAPSA meeting.

But the three officially filed candidates see things differently.

Brittany Edwards, a candidate and current GAPSA president, said she feels frustrated with the “miscategorization” of GAPSA’s leadership. She said the issues raised in last week’s Minnesota Daily article “implies something that was not our intent.”

“It’s an open election, so anyone could have filed,” said candidate Alfonso Sintjago. “We do have a shared vision because we worked together for a year.”

At Wednesday’s sparsely attended forum, Edwards, Sintjago and Kevin Lang outlined their platform, which focused on GAPSA’s restructuring.

The restructure includes expansion of GAPSA’s executive board to include a representative from each of its member councils.

Sintjago said GAPSA sometimes ran like an “insider’s club” before restructuring.

The candidates said their platform will include more representation from GAPSA councils and the student body and will be more transparent.

“It’s going to be the collective,” Lang said. “[It’s] really going to take our platform points and take them to the next level.”

But Petty had a separate platform from the officially registered candidates.

He was critical of the idea to partner with the Center for Integrative Leadership, saying the executive board essentially expects GAPSA to buy its leadership training.

The executive board hasn’t discussed the cost of the CIL partnership or officer stipends with the general assembly, he said.

If elected, Petty said he would like to make significant cuts to officer stipends.

“I don’t think we should be paid at all,” he said.

In her closing statement Wednesday, Edwards said student government needs people who are passionate about the University.

“It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback,” she said. “It’s something else to practice democratic engagement.”