Why you should vote for Gruidl and Stewart

by Tom Hammel

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Kevin Gruidl is currently running for A.S. president on a split ticket with executive V.P. candidate, Jeff Plourd. Artwork courtesy of Omar Rodriguez

Kevin Gruidl is currently running for A.S. president on a split ticket with executive V.P. candidate, Jeff Plourd. Artwork courtesy of Omar Rodriguez

Today is the last day of the Associated Students election. If you’re surprised to hear the news, I don’t blame you.

After spending two weeks covering the A.S. campaigns for The Daily Aztec, I will wholeheartedly tell you voter ignorance is completely justified in the context of the student government elections taking place on this campus. This year, and likely every year prior, A.S. has given the students close to no chance of getting to know its candidates. If you want to know why, read Chris Pocock’s column on page 7, and yesterday’s Opinion page.

There was only one opportunity for you to see our candidates discuss the issues, their qualifications and goals for the next term. That was the A.S. “debate” held at the Free Speech Steps on March 15.

Let me begin by telling you it was no debate. When I signed up to moderate the event, I was under the impression I’d be able to pit candidates against one another in front of a substantial student audience. I thought we’d finally have the time and place where candidates could check each other on any lies they’d campaigned on, which they are not restricted from telling, thanks to missing verbiage in the A.S. election committee bylaws.

Unfortunately, we had no such event. Instead, it was a Q & A session divided between 11 candidates set to last for one hour. Needless to say, we didn’t have any time to open the platform for student questions. At the close of the event, I watched the 40 or so students who cared to attend walk away, and thought to myself, “Holy s—. Is this it?”

I was the only person who was granted the opportunity to question the legitimacy of these candidates in the public eye. I was also one of the very few students who got the chance to hear the only information of substance we’d get throughout the entire election. I have a hard time believing students chose not to show up because they genuinely didn’t care. I attribute the piss-poor turnout to bad publicity for the event, or the complete lack thereof.

So, a one-hour Q & A session, the candidate statements The Daily Aztec published in Monday’s paper and the few tattered signs on campus that braved last weekend’s wind and rain is all that A.S. could give you. I’m sorry, but I was not about to accept that.

It is painfully obvious who the best candidates in this election are. The only event that revealed who these upstanding individuals are never reached enough hearts and minds to make the kind of difference that would change anything in this election. So, throughout the past week, I’ve done everything I could with my section on the paper to get that message to you.

The entire debate is online, word for word. The audio of the debate is posted right there with it. An analysis of every candidate’s answers at the debate was published in Tuesday’s paper, written only by staff members who attended the event.

There is damn good reason the Opinion section almost unanimously chose Kevin Gruidl for A.S. president and Joe Stewart for executive vice president – they are both honest, intelligent and capable people, but in very different ways.

Gruidl came to the forefront of the A.S. presidential candidacy by ascending the ranks in A.S. for years all while pulling off a 3.9 GPA and balancing commitments with Sigma Chi. Gruidl has the exclusive intimate knowledge of how our student government works, and he doesn’t have to try to litter his speech with superfluous words and unrealistic initiatives to prove it. If he were president, I’m fully confident he would know who to talk to, how to treat them with respect and how to get things done — end of story.

After the two events I watched him compete with other candidates in, an endorsement for the the College of Arts and Letters council, and then in the A.S. debate, everyone I talked to afterward said essentially the same thing: “He’s clearly the only one qualified.” I couldn’t agree more.

I’d respected everything he’d said thus far, so I thought I’d sit down with him to discuss his candidacy more in-depth. Gruidl spoke about what I believe are the two most important issues facing our campus next semester: “With the construction of the new LEED Platinum student union building, it is imperative to establish a working relationship with the new university president, especially one that allows shared governance and the continuation of successful student life on campus.”

Check and check. You did your homework, sir.

There is only one thing about Gruidl’s campaign I disapprove of: his running mate. Jeff Plourd, the president of Sigma Chi, is gunning for executive VP on a split ticket with Gruidl. There are two reasons you shouldn’t vote for him. The first, Plourd doesn’t appear as qualified or articulate as his counterpart. The debate audio will spell that out for you in plain, robotic words. I don’t contest he could hold down the job, I’m just unconvinced he’d bring anything exceptional to the table. The second, while he does have a good amount of experience in A.S., he is still the president of Sigma Chi. If Gruidl and Plourd take the election, we will have two members of the same fraternity representing 34,000 students. That would be the grossest case of inflated minority representation we could allow for ourselves. Nobody should want a single organization holding all the cards. Governments in the Middle East are falling like dominoes right now for that very reason.

If you want the most diverse, responsive and well-rounded pair of candidates to run our student government next year, vote for Gruidl and Stewart. There could be nothing healthier for A.S. than splitting its leadership between a veteran insider and a renegade reformer. You will get two people who have both learned the bylaws like the backs of their hands, but for entirely different reasons.

As a former Marine, a leader in the Student Veteran’s Organization and an adamant watchdog for as many A.S. decisions he has time to examine, Stewart represents the type of leader who will attack each issue with a different perspective and work ethic than his colleagues. If there’s anything A.S. needs, it’s a bold personality willing to gut check the system and the integrity of each decision as it’s being made.

My section knows Stewart at a personal level because he’s a writer for it. I will tell you up front, we’re all biased in his favor. We know what kind of person he is and what he’s attempting to accomplish. Let me assure you, however, we are a hard group of people to convince. Nonetheless, we believe in him.

That being said, I would rather you make your own opinion than take my word for it. Read what Sean Kashanchi had to say on page seven. Go online, listen to the debate, read all the candidates’ answers in the transcript and decide for yourself.

A couple of minutes ago, you had every reason not to vote. A thousand words later, you don’t have that luxury. Please log on to WebPortal and vote. Click the eVote bar, select your candidate and click “submit ballot.” Don’t do it for me, do it for the students of next year.

—Tom Hammel is a political science senior.
—The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.

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