Students’ Union campaign period kicks off; countdown to Feb. 5-6 election begins
The candidates have announced. The papers have been signed.
And the race has begun.
The 2014 campaign period kicked off on Tuesday with the all candidates meeting, bringing out all presidential, board of directors, board of governors and senate candidates who are running in this year’s Students’ Union elections.
Four presidential candidates submitted nomination packages. The number of board of directors candidates, senate and board of governors candidates could not be confirmed at the time of publication.
Chief returning officer for the WLUSU elections, Dani Saad, provided an overview of the rules for candidates, from items such as campaign spending and promotional materials, to demerit points for infractions.
“I think we’re at a point now where everyone, at least in a broad sense, understands their role and what they’re supposed to be doing and how to act, which is good, which is my job,” said Saad.
The meeting went smoothly after a 35 minute delay at the onset due to the late arrival of candidates. All but one—who was determined to have legitimate reasons, according to Saad—were present.
“We’ll catch them up, make sure it’s still an even playing field,” he said. “And make that clear to everyone here as well so they don’t feel disadvantaged. It’s been dealt with fairly.”
All four presidential candidates, which includes Andres Melendez, Chandler Jolliffe, Justin Tabakian and Sam Lambert, were present.
“I’m excited. It feels like it’s been a long time coming, so by the end you just get anxious for it to get going after so many months of prep work. I’m glad it’s finally kicking off and we can actually get going,” said Jolliffe.
Jolliffe expects that keeping the election focused on the key topics may be one of the challenges he’ll face.
He continued, “I think getting the elections really focused on core issues and factual issues is the biggest challenge. But that being said, I think it’s a good one and I think we have a good enough candidate pool this year that the election will be very issues-focused.”
Melendez anticipates making the student body aware of his personal profile could be difficult—but it’s also what he’s most excited about.
“[I’m most looking forward to] talking to students. Getting their perspective,” he said.
“Because this is a democracy and in order to have an idea, to pitch something, you have to get everyone’s perspective, you know, because it’s a school that has so many different people, so many people of different personalities, different backgrounds, different needs.”
None of the presidential candidates have previous experience with the WLUSU board of directors. Similarly, the vast majority of candidates for this year’s BOD are also lacking prior formal experience in the organization.
Matt McLean is one of three directors running for a second term.
“We made a lot of progress this year, had a great year. My hope is to keep that going next year, get the board a little bit more involved than it was this year and continue some of the issues, make sure those get carried over,” he said.
McLean, a third-year political science and history student, said he’ll be focusing on talking about the strategic plan to students during the campaign period.
Second-year student Rochelle Adamiak is new to Laurier’s student politics and is aiming to bridge the gap between students and the board.
“I’m mainly focusing on transparency, so I really want communication between the board and the student population. Coming from being a first-year, now in my second-year, I also want more connection and communication just with Laurier in general,” she explained.
All candidates can now begin campaigning and will be engaging with students through upcoming events like the open forum.
While the ground rules have been laid and none can plead ignorance, Saad—who ran for WLUSU president last year—will be maintaining a dialogue with candidates and campaign teams throughout the election period.
“As a candidate I was a bit lost at the beginning, so I know how that feels to be overwhelmed, especially at the beginning and in this meeting. It’s a big room, so sometimes it’s tough to ask questions,” he said.
“Just really making people feel comfortable enough to come to me with questions I think is the most important thing.” Voting will take place on Feb. 5 and 6.
*Disclaimer: Dani Saad is the Opinion Editor at The Cord.