The Daily Gamecock

2011 SG elections kick off on Greene St.

Candidates faced with stricter spending limits

Student Government Executive candidates hardly heeded last night’s rain as they scrambled onto Greene Street to post their banners — the first ads of the 2011 Student Government elections campaign.

The campaign officially kicked off at 8 p.m. Tuesday for this year’s Senatorial and Executive candidates. Elections Commissioner Laurel Parker outlined this year’s strict campaign spending regulations. Each executive candidate will have a $1000 spending limit with an added $500 allowed in the event of a run-off election. All candidates will be required to submit an expense report every Monday of the campaign period. The elections commission hopes the stricter hearing regulations will help curb violations in this year’s campaign, as last year a candidate was disqualified for the promotional actions carried out by her campaign staff.

“We figured we’d leave no gray area with the new finance codes,” Parker said. “We always hope for zero violations, but something happens every year.”

In case you haven’t been paying attention, here’s a run-down of this year’s executive candidates:

Running for president are fourth-year history student James Strickland,

third-year finance student Joe Wright, third-year chemistry student Rohail Kazi, and third-year business student Steve Vereen.

Campaigning for vice-president are second-year political science student John Cuenin and second-year public relations student Katie Thompson.

And running unopposed for treasurer is fourth-year accounting and integrated information and technology student Emily Supil.

There are currently still vacancies in the new student Senate, and unless additional students are elected through write-in votes during the first round of elections on Feb. 15-16, the schools of medicine, pharmacy, education and music will not be represented in the new student Senate inaugurated in March. The schools of journalism and social work each have only one candidate running.

 Some key issues to watch in this year’s campaign include initiating a free student cab service, expanding the Carolina Card’s buying power to off-campus locations, improving the meal plan and forming new deals with Sodexo, increasing sustainability and working with campus green fees, and as always, fulfilling the promises of greater representation for the student body and discernible action on Student Government’s part.

However, candidates say that in order to effectively represent the student body, more students need to vote in SG elections. According to Strickland, who previously served as secretary of government-community relations, only 17 to 18 percent of the student body has turned up to vote in past elections.

“We’re very much hoping to get students energized and enthusiastic about voting,” Strickland said. “It’d be great to break 20 percent this year.”

Despite this year’s campaign budget cap, candidates are anticipating an exciting and engaging election season. Expect to see plenty of campaign tweets, Facebook events, fliers, koozies and YouTube videos as candidates contrive thriftier ways to reach the student body.

“All of us will be focusing on more creative ways to market ourselves this year,” Kazi said.

As usual, the candidates will soon be making their rounds to student organizations, getting their names out and presenting their platforms by interacting directly with their constituents.

“You have to let them know who you are, where you come from and what you stand for,” Strickland said. “And you don’t need a whole lot of money to talk to people.”