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ASU Election Forum Increases Participation

The turnout for the ASU forum jumped from past years while the students questioned some candidates.

By Courtney Bassler | Valley Life
On April 18, 2012

The Valley College Associated Student Union saw an increase in student participation at Thursday's election forum, with more than 70 students turning out to hear the candidates' platforms, ask questions and decide who they want to vote for in Monday and Tuesday's elections to form next year's ASU board.

The turnout was more than double the 30 students who participated in last year's forum. The forum started more than 20 minutes late due to technical difficulties, resulting in no working microphones and a more intimate setting.

"I came to check out the people who I'm going to vote for," said business management major, Johniema Hababag. "I just don't vote blindly. I want to be an informed voter."

There are 15 positions on the ASU board. Due to a lack of candidates, last year's elections left multiple positions to be appointed. This year, however, there is at least one candidate per position-and in many cases, there are several people running in the same race.

"It is great to see all of the positions filled," said Ashley Miller, ASU's fine arts commissioner, regarding the number of candidates on the ballot. "It's a much better turnout than last year."

Students at this year's forum also listened to three students from the Los Angeles Community College District who are running for the board of trustees' student trustee: Daniel Campos, Mission College's Associated Students Organization president; Richard Hernandez, Harbor College's Associated Students Organization vice president; and Mister Searcy, West Los Angeles College's Associated Students Organization chief justice.

The new board of trustees' student trustee will replace Valley political science major and former ASU Attorney General Brandon Batham, who resigned from his ASU position to act as interim student trustee when the previous trustee-another Valley student-Amber Barrera, stepped down in the middle of her term.

After each candidate gave a short presentation of why they are running for a seat in the ASU and what they would improve while in office, Batham joined ASU President Norvan Berkezyan, ASU Vice President Eduard Grigoryan and ASU Commissioner of Political Affairs Ovanes Chobanian in proctoring students' questions to the candidates.

Batham also asked questions of his own, including whether the way Besharty's leadership on Tau Alpha Epsilon could be compared to a dictatorship. Besharty responded that, "ASU isn't meant for professionals to run it: it's for the students."

Aundrea Pinto, a candidate for ethnic and cultural affairs commissioner, said she hopes to "create events known to the world but also to the campus." Lester Salvador, the current ASU commissioner of campus and environmental affairs, is running for vice president and hopes to focus his time on the Inter-Club Council of the ASU. "[The] vice president is the mediator of the ICC," said Salvador. "[The] ICC should have [its] own budget ... it takes two to three weeks to get money from the ASU."

Shawn Besharty and Vahe Matevosyan, both candidates for president, are running on a similar platform of experience: Besharty with his work with the honors society, TAE, and Matevosyan already being on the ASU board as chief justice.  

Voting takes place in Monarch Hall today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Voters must present a student or government ID to participate.

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