This is the first Student Government election cycle — and 2018-2019 will be the first term — to include a new speaker of the student senate position, as well as the transition towards a new role for the student body vice president. It has also seen a dramatic increase in solid, competent and qualified candidates for positions at all levels. However, there are still factors that differentiate the candidates, such as past experience, leadership and vision.
Speaker of the student senate
Based primarily on the first and last of these considerations, The Daily Gamecock endorses Patrick Ellis for speaker of the student senate. While both candidates are qualified for the position based on the positions they have held in the senate, Ellis is significantly more so in both the high volume of legislation he has been responsible for and in the fact that he was one of the senators responsible for writing the codes for the position he is now campaigning to hold.
Furthermore, his concept of the role of speaker seems more fully-formed than his opponent's. While Aaron Greenberg sees himself as a vehicle to help senators work towards their passions without executive influence, Ellis truly sees it for what it is — an executive position, which will necessarily have some role in pushing an executive agenda.
For the position of treasurer, faced again with three essentially qualified candidates, we endorse Wilfredo Anderson. While he lacks the more traditional experience with the senate finance committee that is sported by his opponent, Emerson Odagis, we believe his other opponent, Eugene Suydam, said it best: "It's going to be important to work with the finance committee, but I don't think that's where the real job lies."
Anderson appears to understand the relationship between the treasurer's office and student organizations on a passionate, personal level unmatched by his opponents. We believe his learning curve in the finance committee would be more than compensated for by his genuine concern for fair, inclusive and accessible funding, as well as his apparent commitment to learning and performing the duties of this position.
Since the platforms of the presidential candidates were so similar, it was difficult to exclude candidates from consideration solely based on policy issues. Taylor Wright and Kathryn Stoudemire are both driven, connected and experienced, which made the choice between them difficult, but we endorse Wright over Stoudemire based on his involvement and enthusiasm. He has a realistic conception of the president's position and has not proposed unlikely projects, like pedestrian bridges over railroad crossings, but has nonetheless made himself appealing simply by being charismatic and personable.
Leadership requires approachability and communication, which Wright has exemplified by the connections he has made with organizations such as Stigma Free USC and his leadership in organizations like Lead the Way. We believe he will be the best face of the student body and will be successful in representing our interests with the board of trustees, should the president become a voting member of the board.
In the interest of full disclosure, Wright is a member of the board of publications, which is the body responsible for assessing the applicants for the position of The Daily Gamecock's editor-in-chief, among other responsibilities to our organization. However, no members of the editorial staff who participated in this editorial board are interested in that position in the future, and we are an editorially independent publication. The rules of our organization and the board of publications prevent their influence from making our decisions for us, but nonetheless, we have taken steps to remove any bias from this endorsement by excluding members of our editorial staff who might have a conflict of interest.
We were outspoken in our endorsements last year about our feelings about the implications of a system of tickets for Student Government. Those feelings have not changed, although they are somewhat mollified by the fact that tickets did not include rank-and-file senatorial candidates this year or result in an overall shortage of qualified executive candidates.
However, we continue to have reservations about tickets — this year those reservations mostly regard unequal worthiness in tickets, which may result in a candidate who is less qualified winning out over one who is more qualified based on his or her running mate. Endorsing both members of any of the three tickets this year would be willfully ignoring one candidate's drawbacks in favor of his or her ticket partner's merits.
For this reason, although we support Taylor Wright's candidacy for the presidency, we endorse Madi Carzon for the vice presidency. We do not endorse Hayes or DiBona along with their running mates because neither an outgoing personality nor flashy campaign materials are a substitute for basic preparedness for the position.
Carzon lacks Student Government experience in comparison to one of her opponents, Nick Hooks, but unlike the new speaker position, the new role of the vice president does not necessarily include working closely with the senate, which makes senate experience far less crucial than leadership and vision. We believe that Carzon has filled enough leadership roles outside of Student Government to more than prove that she has the management skills to perform the duties of the vice president. She is also passionate about some very achievable goals, like fixing campus emergency call boxes, and has a background in public relations, which may help her in the shared goal of all the candidates: keeping students informed and interested in Student Government.
Overall, the majority of the candidates who are running this year are at least baseline qualified to do the jobs they are campaigning for. Many even go beyond the baseline and have experience that would be relevant in an executive position. However, even among an unusually strong crop of candidates, Wright, Carzon, Anderson and Ellis still stick out as being the most passionate, genuine and prepared candidates for their various positions.