Voting Guide: Tempe USG Presidential Elections

Undergraduate Student Government election season is in full swing, and students on all campuses are on the campaign trail, vying for representation and control in student government. 

There are four candidates for USG president on the Tempe campus, each with a vice president of policy and a vice president of services. Each candidate spoke with State Press to talk about their platform and their campaign. Here are the results of those conversations, edited for clarity and concision, alongside each of the full recordings:

Brandon Bishop, Kenzie Johnson (VP of policy), John Lauro (VP of services)

What are some of the basic tenets of your platform?

Bishop: "We're running on three main ideals: advancement, advocacy and accountability. We want to make sure all our ideas are advancing the student body forward. We want to make sure that we are advocating for every student here at ASU on the University, city and state level. And finally, we want to make sure that we are holding USG and the University accountable for their actions."

What makes you particularly qualified to hold this position?

Johnson: "I think what really sets us apart is our experience. I have served in the policy department in USG already for two years. I know it very well. I have connections at the legislature and experience working with Arizona politicians, as well as connections at the local level. Our VP of services, John Lauro, offers kind of a fresh perspective. He has a great deal of business experience, and I think that's something none of the other tickets really have."

Bishop: "We're ready to take office day one. I'm already the chief of staff for USG. I work together with Isaac Miller, as well as the other executives. I know how the executive office is supposed to function. I know the process for going through the University. I know the inside and outside of USG. I served as president of my fraternity, and helped it grow from a 35-man chapter to an 80-man chapter."

What motivated the decision to run for executive office, and how did your ticket get assembled? 

Bishop: "When I first came in as a freshman, I was an intern for USG, and every intern has this dream that, 'One day, I'm gonna be president.' I got really experienced on campus through my fraternity, and I was asked to come on as chief of staff. I started thinking of ideas on how to fix this campus, and I thought the best way for me to fix this campus was to be president of USG. Kenzie is actually one of my closest friends. She got me more believing in the fact that I needed to be president."

Grady Eldridge, Kevin McCawley (VP of services), Julia Deitz (VP of policy)

What are some of the basic tenets of your platform?

Eldridge: "I think if you take anything away from the Human Campaign, it's that it's action oriented. Why do we have to wait to be in an elected position to help the community? We wanted to use the stage of USG elections to create immediate impact that students can participate in. We're having a bunch of events that are action oriented and community oriented to show students that you can be a leader every day, in your own way. The ideas that we're pitching are not typical for USG. We think there's a problem with the system. Right now, only 24 percent of platform items in the past two years have actually come to fruition. Only 5 percent — on a good year — of the student body is actually voting. Looking at those numbers, there's clearly a disconnect between students and USG."

What makes your ticket qualified to hold executive positions?

Eldridge: "Everyone on our team is really involved. I think we have the most realistic pulse on the student body. With our attitudes, we have the potential for the most growth and change within the system. If we keep doing things the same way, we're going to have the same results. I think we have more potential to make change because of that outsider perspective."

What motivated you to run, and how did your ticket get assembled? 

Eldridge: "I think what motivated me is, you look at the election last year and the year before, there's always a tremendous amount of drama and politics.  When you hear about things happening on the inside, it seems that everyone is always complaining about it. Even the people who are in politics don't like politics. It seemed to become a complacent attitude of, 'Well, that's just the way it is.' We need to be active when people don't like things. Making the Human Campaign less about politics and procedure and more about people and action is really important."

Aundrea DeGravina, Alexander Arena (VP of services), Monti Alvarenga (VP of policy)

What are some of the basic tenets of your platform?

DeGravina: "We're kind of running on a basis that USG is a system that is very inefficient. If we're pouring money into a system, it needs to be working right. If you look at the services department, we really want to improve our safety escort services. We don't want the wait time to be 15 minutes, cause at that point, it's not a safety escort. We're already paying for a safety escort service, and I don't see it going away, so let's make it better. We also want talk about making a one-university event calendar. OrgSync collects a lot of data (about events), let's make it more usable. Looking at our policy department, we want to implement a two-part plan. First semester, let's prep. Let's get our students ready, and let's get prominent student leaders ready. Let's learn how to lobby, and let's get our students educated. You prep these students when the legislature's not in session, so in second semester, it's nose to the grindstone. One of the things I want to tackle is mental health awareness. In the stuff that I'm pitching, what we're going for is feasibility. We're not going to promise you free printing every year. I'm not going to promise something that isn't realistic."

What makes you qualified to hold executive office? 

DeGravina: "I think our experience level is what sets us apart. Alex and I came from the appropriations committee. We were senators as freshman, and then reelected and appointed to the appropriations committee. I think appropriations is one of the biggest services we offer students. I could be in the USG office, talking to five or six clubs a day. Being able to have that dialogue with students, and truly knowing what they need, sets us apart. I think I have a broad perspective. Monti, on the other hand, she's newer to USG, and I think that's what makes her valuable to the team. She came from RHA, in a very high-up position there, and she learned the needs of the residents. And then, she transitioned seamlessly to USG, and worked in the policy department."

What motivated your decision to run, and how did your ticket get assembled?

DeGravina: "Originally, this wasn't necessarily our intention. We wanted to go back to the senate, and Monti really wanted to mold her role. But, there's a certain thing about complacency that I don't like. Alex called me up and said, 'You gotta do it, Aundrea.' Monti is smart, confident, and willing to do the groundwork. She read the election code seven times, and she enjoys that kind of stuff. That's something you need doing policy. If we're not what the students want, they'll let us know. We're passionate about what we think, what we know and the students."

Niko Vlastos, Alexander Rudolph (VP of services), Torrey Thompson (VP of policy)

What are some of the basic tenets of your platform?

Vlastos: "I feel like how USG is currently run is not very effective, and I feel like there's a lot of corruption. I feel like I can give every student, not just of particular organizations, a voice. We really wanted to make ASU a more fair place for Greek life. Also, how finances are handled seems a little unfair and a little shady — a little behind-the-scenes. We want to simplify the finances system, so every club and organization can get their funds. We also have points about sustainability and campus safety on our platform."

What makes you qualified to hold this position? 

Vlastos: "A couple tickets are already members of USG, and I would claim that they are career politicians there. Their whole goal is to be elected to the next position. In my mind, the system doesn't work very well, and they seem to be a part of it. We are very much outsiders. We want to see if we can come in with a fresh view, change things and make them work better. Both of my VPs are political science majors, and this is what they study, so they are very knowledgeable for their positions."

What motivated the decision to run, and how did your ticket get assembled?

Vlastos: "I approached my running mates, since I knew they had a background in political science, and that they would be able to fill in some of the blanks I have. I chose them so we could be, as a whole, stronger."

Torrey: "I accepted Niko's invitation to be VP of policy because, he had on his platform a lot of things about the future of sustainability at this school, which I really like, like introducing compost bins to the MU."

Related links:

ASU 2016-17 proposal increases tuition for in-state students, non-residents

USG Tempe votes to recommend $5 increase in student programming fee

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