Six slates race for ASSU Executive

March 4, 2010, 1:05 a.m.

With two late entrants to the ASSU executive race Wednesday afternoon, a total of six slates have officially announced their bids for the top two spots in Stanford student government.

Six slates race for ASSU Executive
HARRISON TRUONG/The Stanford Daily

Now, what started out as a one slate race last week has emerged as a free-for-all after several slates tossed in their hats in just a few days’ time.

To keep their executive hopes afloat, each slate now has little more than 24 hours to present 200 student signatures to the Elections Commission.

For the first round of the election process, interested candidates must gather signatures from the students via the ASSU petitions Web site or Elections Commission-approved paper forms. The petition period opened at noon on Feb. 12 and will close at 4 p.m. on Friday.

After petitions are verified, the Elections Commission will on March 9 release the list of candidates eligible to continue on to the April campaign.

As of press time, only one slate — juniors Thom Scher and Stephanie Werner — had passed the 200-signature threshold, according to ASSU Assistant Elections Commissioner for Undergraduate Elections Cotis Mitchell ’12. The Elections Commission validated the Scher-Werner petition Wednesday evening.

Wanted: VP Candidate

While Scher and Werner announced their hopeful candidacy early, Scher’s road to a running mate was, he said, a two-month process.

Scher, who could have graduated early this year, decided to stay another year in order to run for ASSU office. He first began considering a run for executive, and potential running mates, in December.

Initially, Scher discussed a possible run for executive with a pool of ASSU veterans, including former chairs of the Undergraduate Senate Tiq Chapa ’10 and Shelley Gao ’11 and current chair Varun Sivaram ’11. Scher asked Gao to be his potential running mate, saying he “would have probably run with her had she said yes.”

But Gao declined — briefly appearing on a different slate with Danny Crichton ’11, also The Daily’s former columns editor — and Scher paired up with long-time friend Werner.

At Stanford, Scher and Werner have worked together as executive director and director of development, respectively, of Stanford’s Charity Fashion Show. Their friendship, however, dates back to four years ago, when they met during the Stanford High School Summer College Program.

Both said their slate formed naturally: “We didn’t have to sync our calendars because we are already synced,” Scher said.

Last year, Scher intended to run for Undergraduate Senate with the Students for a Better Stanford coalition, but eventually decided to accept a job with Student Activities and Leadership instead, which he said lent him experience with University administration.

Werner has worked for The Daily and the CoHo.

Will They? Won’t They?

Only close observers of the petitions process were able to catch a glimpse of the short-lived candidacy of Crichton and Gao for the executive jobs. Their petition appeared late last Monday, but was taken down just two days later.

Gao is serving her second term in the Undergraduate Senate, and is also a Daily columnist.

After initially considering a run, Gao said she came to the conclusion that she did not want to commit to an executive post, and will instead pursue other avenues to serve the Stanford community. Late Wednesday, Gao had not opened a petition for a Senate candidacy while Crichton joined the race as a Senate candidate after resigning from The Daily.

The Chappie Returns

Under the slate billed “Two Dope Boys in a Caddylack,” Billy Kemper ’11 and Josh Meisel ’12 joined the executive race early. One in a long line of The Stanford Chaparral-affiliated executive bids, the duo affirmed their determination for the job.

Kemper and Meisel believe they have the skills to direct the ASSU, Kemper boasting his student government experience — he was sophomore class treasurer in high school — and Meisel citing involvement with nearly every campus student group, all of which he signed up for at the activities fair.

The two pledge to stick out their entire term if elected, even through Meisel’s injuries.

Kemper and Meisel had 188 signatures at press time.

Groundbreaking Grads

Last Sunday, ASSU veterans Ryan Peacock and Jonathan Bakke, both doctoral students in chemical engineering, began their petition drive. The pair first met during the recruiting weekend for the chemical engineering graduate program in 2006.

Until Angelina Cardona ’11 and Kelsei Wharton ’12 announced their candidacy Wednesday afternoon, Peacock, a Graduate Student Council (GSC) member, and Bakke, who chairs the Nominations Commission, were the only candidates with major ASSU experience.

Now in his second GSC term, Peacock serves as the group’s financial officer; Bakke served two years on the University’s Committee of Research.

Notably, Peacock and Bakke are the only doctoral students to run for ASSU Executive in the last decade, according to past election records.

Since 1999, only two non-undergraduate students have served as executives: graduate student in genetics John Mills was vice president in 1999, and coterminal student in computer science David Gobaud is the current president.

Undergraduate students historically make up a larger number of the total voters, which may hurt the Peacock-Bakke slate in the general election in April, where slates must win by a majority. Last year, 3,351 undergraduates and 1,783 graduates voted in the election.

Bakke said he hopes that students evaluate the slate on their platform rather than their graduation year. At press time, the two had collected 177 signatures.

“I would hope that everybody can take an unbiased look at the candidates,” Bakke said.

‘Criminalizing Dark Skies’

Also entering the race Sunday, the “No Rain Campaign!” slate of Katherine Heflin ’11 and Daniel Leifer ’10 burst onto the scene with a YouTube campaign video. True to their slate name, Heflin and Leifer proposed solutions to what they call one of Stanford’s most pressing issues: precipitation.

But the pair refutes suggestions that their slate is a joke.

“The ASSU race begins to become a lot about broken promises,” Leifer said. “So long as someone is running, why not promise that it’s not going to rain next year?”

Leifer cited experience as serving on the Vaden Advisory Board, among his campus activities.

To fill out their petition form, the slate initially flipped a coin to decide who would be president.

So far in the petitions phase, the two have been victims of technical difficulties. At one point, the slate lost between seven and 80 signatures due to an incorrect petitions Web site URL. The votes were recovered yesterday, and the two have 177 total signatures.

Call to Service

Cardona and Wharton entered the race Wednesday afternoon. Cardona said she decided to run last Friday, while Wharton made his decision late Tuesday.

Cardona, a freshman resident assistant in Trancos, has been involved in campus politics since her freshman year, when she served as Branner dorm president. She worked for the successful executive campaign of Jonny Dorsey ’09 and Fagan Harris ’09, going on to serve as their mental health co-chair. She was involved in founding the Wellness Room.

It was Dorsey and Harris who kept calling Cardona as she weighed her decision last week, ultimately convincing her to run.

“They were the ones calling me late Thursday night,” she said. “They were a big push in the right direction, I would say.”

As soon as she decided to run, Cardona immediately knew that Wharton — the current deputy Senate chair, who she knows through Foundation for Education, an afterschool math program — would be an appealing choice for vice president.

Cardona said she liked Wharton’s record as a campus leader.

The two are the only undergraduates candidates with major ASSU experience. Their petition open just seven hours, the two had already gathered 190 signatures on Wednesday night.

Down to the Wire

Austin Guzman ’11 and Patrick Mahoney ‘11, who opened their petition late Wednesday afternoon, have the largest gap to fill by Friday afternoon. Guzman and Mahoney, under the slate name “The Guzman-Mahoney Referendum Demanding Action,” still needed 184 signatures at press time.

In light of the resignation of former ASSU vice president Jay de la Torre ’11 in November, all candidates, save Guzman and Mahoney, said they would be able to serve out their entire term if elected.

Guzman and Mahoney did not return requests for comment on Wednesday.

Thus far, only Kemper and Meisel have committed to using the ASSU public financing plan. Heflin and Leifer said they would spend no money on their campaign, while the other slates have not yet decided.

In total, 4,766 undergraduates, 436 coterms and 256 graduate students have signed petitions for candidates, slates and special fee requests.

Nikhil Joshi contributed to this report.

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