The Daily Aztec

2019 A.S. election endorsements

by The Editorial Board

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President: Christian Onwuka

Executive Vice President: Christian Holt

Vice President of Financial Affairs: NONE

Vice President of External Relations: NONE

Vice President of University Affairs: George Scott

A year ago, in the midst of an Associated Students election season in which the majority of the executive officer seats only had one candidate, this editorial board called on students to step up and get involved in their student government. This year, it seems that call to action has been met to an extent, with competitive candidates running for executive vice president, vice president of external relations and vice president of university affairs. But there’s still only one candidate for vice president of financial affairs, and, crucially, the election for A.S. president seems far from competitive.

Even before stepping onto the debate stage last Wednesday, current A.S. Vice President of Financial Affairs Christian Onwuka was the clear favorite to win the A.S. presidency over Mariya Nadberezhna.

Why? Onwuka is already well-known in A.S. and on campus — as are the other members of his Vote SDSU slate — compared to Nadberezhna, who cited joining a student-run organization intent on saving the vaquita porpoise among her qualifications. Now, that’s not to say a candidate with no prior A.S. experience can’t or shouldn’t run for an A.S. office. But an inexperienced candidate who wants to win needs to have a clear, impactful vision to beat a candidate who does have experience. Based on her performance at last week’s debate and her answers to interview questions in her candidate profile, it would be difficult to argue Nadberezhna presents such a vision.

It’s unfortunate she’s Onwuka’s only opponent, because he is far from the only person in A.S. with enough experience to be president. There are plenty of qualified people in student government who could have run — to name just one, Vice President of External Relations Michael Wiafe, who’s currently a junior, would have been an excellent candidate. Many of the candidates for lower positions are similarly well-qualified, and yet chose the positions they’re running for rather than the A.S. presidency.

It seems there is a culture in A.S. of even the most experienced, qualified officers clearing the way for a single person to be crowned, rather than elected, president. That has to change.

It’s entirely possible Onwuka would be the best candidate even if he were running against a field of candidates with more to offer. He’s been an exemplary vice president of financial affairs and he’s a very visible leader on campus. But we’ll never be able to gauge how good he would have been were he running in a competitive election, because his opposition is in name only.

“I am running for president because I want to leave my own impact on San Diego State,” Nadberezhna said in her interview with The Daily Aztec. “I feel that, while it is a great school already, there are still a few things that can be improved. I also would like to give a voice to the people who don’t necessarily have the opportunity to give their own voice. So in a way, put them a little higher on a pedestal since I myself will be in a position of power.”

That’s an answer someone gives when they don’t know why they’re running for president.

To be sure, a vote for Onwuka is definitely a vote for the status quo.

“When I joined A.S. as the VP of financial affairs it was more about just learning the system, not learning how to be the leader, and now that I have the opportunity to become president I know the system, I know how to be a leader, I can just kind of do what I feel like is going to be best for our students,” Onwuka said in his interview.

Onwuka’s answer does lack specifics. What exactly is going to be best for students? However, we know he has enough experience to serve students well and he’s shown a willingness to represent everyone on campus, including working to support undocumented students and identity centers like the Black Resource Center. Nadberezhna lacks the same level of experience.

In contrast to the presidential election, both candidates for executive vice president are extremely good contenders. Kyla Blaylock, a member of Onwuka’s Vote SDSU slate, has been in A.S. since her freshman year and is currently the Aztec Student Union Board commissioner. Christian Holt, who’s only served in one A.S. position — as a representative for the Afrikan Student Union on the Student Diversity Commission — but has been involved on campus in other ways, including as a community assistant, is a perfect example of how someone with limited A.S. experience can still be a great candidate. It’s a close call, but we will give Holt the edge because of his more unique qualifications.

While Dustin Adkins delivered a competent performance at what was meant to be his debate, the editorial board won’t endorse candidates who are running unopposed.

The editorial board also won’t endorse a candidate for vice president of external relations. Angelica Espinoza, the Vote SDSU candidate, looks good on paper, but Stephanie Estrada showed more humanity and empathy in her debate performance. Estrada would have been our pick, but her use of a racial slur in a social media post shortly after announcing her candidacy demonstrated very poor judgment, and we can’t support it.

Finally, Vote SDSU candidate George Scott is our pick for vice president of university affairs due to his broader experience and deeper understanding of his position compared to the other candidate, Winston Liew.

There are qualified candidates for each A.S. executive officer position, and we’re confident next year’s student government will be in good hands. Still, our call to action is the same as last year — more students need to involve themselves in A.S., take risks and run for positions. Students need choices, and while this election is better than last, there’s still a lot of room to grow.

A.S. elections are open on WebPortal until 7 p.m. Thursday, March 28.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “2019 A.S. election endorsements”

  1. Sean Guard on March 27th, 2019 11:02 pm

    “A vote for Onwuka is definitely a vote for the status quo.”

    It is extremely problematic of The Daily Aztec to perpetuate the notion that experience makes one unfit for a position of power. That kind of thinking is what leads to unqualified candidates holding positions they are not suited for based purely on the notion that a governing body needs fresh blood in order to be effective. In almost every instance, being inexperienced (in this case, in AS) means being unqualified. Someone who has no or little knowledge of the inner workings of AS would inevitably have to spend the first months of his or her time in the office learning the ins and outs of the organization, and will as a result waste valuable time that could be spent making an actual difference. An experienced candidate would not have this problem.

    I won’t go as far as to say that all outsider candidates would automatically be a detriment to AS, but to imply that the status quo is inherently bad just further perpetuates a system that places unqualified people in positions they are not qualified for, and is overall negative for SDSU.

  2. sorry on March 28th, 2019 1:38 am

    get to know the candidates better? all the candidates, there’s a lot ya’ll missing

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