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Debates conclude and point the way to election day

Washington State University Vancouver is fast approaching election dates for ASWSUV senate, presidential and vice presidential positions for the upcoming school year. This year’s campaign cycle will end in elections opening on Mar. 3.

The second of two senate and presidential debates was held on Wednesday, Feb. 24 in the Firstenburg Student Commons. At the debate, candidates for open positions were able to answer questions from a panel of moderators as well as from the audience. At the final debate, two presidential tickets were represented. Julie Mercado and Honor Stevenson are running for the presidential and vice presidential nomination, respectively. The other ticket represented at the debate was Skye Troy, running for ASWSUV president, and Samy Reel as vice president.

At the debate, both tickets were able to outline their platforms. Mercado and Stevenson are running on a platform of “accessibility, transparency and diversity.” Highlighting diversity, Mercado hopes to raise awareness and access for students from minority backgrounds. Mercado said that “respect is a huge aspect,” of fostering diversity..

The Troy – Reel campaign outlined a platform of “affordability, community and accessibility.” The pair plans to lobby to help reduce educational costs. They also hope to foster a sense of community by reaching out to all students on campus to help create a sense of belonging. “Together, those three areas can be integrated to make student life on campus a place that is meant for everybody,” Troy said.

After the candidates outlined their platforms, questions from the audience were allowed. These covered a wide range of topics, from what the candidates know about the positions they are running for to how the candidates plan to represent under-represented student populations on campus. The debate was well organized and friendly, with both sides politely answering each question asked of them.

The 2016 election cycle has already proven to be an eventful one. Before debates and campaigning began, the election was marked with some dispute. A complaint against the Troy – Reel campaign was brought before the Election Board by current student body president Shain Wright on behalf of an anonymous plaintiff. The campaign had allegedly violated campaign bylaws by attempting to use online fundraising before fundraising was allowed.

The Election Board found that the campaign’s alleged fundraising activity occurred before they had applied for candidacy. The Board thus decided that “Candidates Troy and Reel are found not responsible of the alleged violations against their campaign.” Wright emphasized that the filing of the complaint was not a personal grievance against the Troy – Reel campaign. Rather, “It was just trying to make sure we’re having a fair and equitable election,” said Wright.

Troy was relieved at the decision of the Elections Board, saying “we were very pleased.” She expressed similar sentiments to Wright that the process was very respectful and proper. Regarding the complaint, Troy said “We believe in the bylaws and we would never knowingly break them.”

Despite the issue of the complaint, the elections campaign has been satisfactory to the candidates. Current ASWSUV president Wright hopes that more students will take the elections seriously and vote. According to Wright, only twenty percent of the student population voted in the last election.

With the debates now concluded, election days are fast approaching. Online voting opens on Thursday, Mar. 3. Polling stations will open around campus on Mar. 7 and will be available until Mar. 9.

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