With the coronavirus pandemic bringing campus life to a halt, it may come as a surprise to many that Associated Students elections are currently in full swing.
Frankly, it came as a surprise to us at The Daily Aztec as well. After dealing with minute-to-minute coverage of the pandemic for about two weeks, it’s fair to say the student elections were not at the front of our minds.
But that does not mean they are not important. As much as most of us wish this semester could’ve ended without having to shift classes online or move out of campus housing, the only thing we can do now is try to ensure next year is better. Student leadership will undoubtedly play a big role in making sure that happens.
Not to mention, this year has brought us the most competitive election most of us have seen while at San Diego State. With two highly qualified, competing slates in the mix – SDSU 2020 Vision and Serve SDSYOU – being informed on the candidates is more important than ever.
With that, here are The Daily Aztec’s endorsements for the 2020 A.S. executive positions.
President: Christian Holt, SDSU 2020 Vision
Since the minute A.S. presidential candidates Christian Holt and Steven Plante stepped up to the debate stage last week, we knew this competition was going to be messier than normal.
Plante fearlessly took jabs at Holt for depending on an iPad for debate notes, and Holt snapped back at comments about him being too friendly with faculty members over students.
Ultimately, both candidates have made significant missteps throughout the campaign season.
We chose to endorse Holt because we see him as a strong leader when it comes to working with diverse groups on campus. His experience working with many student and faculty groups, including working as a community assistant in student housing for three years, puts him much closer to the lives of everyday students.
One of Holt’s priorities, he says, is to “bridge the gap between represented and underrepresented communities.” We have faith Holt will pass the microphone to different groups who might not normally be well represented within A.S.
However, we still look down upon Holt’s decision to recycle the Instagram account from his failed bid for executive vice president in 2019. This put his slate hundreds of followers ahead of his competitors before campaigning was even allowed to begin.
Despite the fact this action was not strictly prohibited by A.S. elections code, it is ethically questionable and puts the democratic nature of the election in jeopardy. In a campaign almost entirely based on social media outreach, this decision definitely puts SDSU 2020 Vision at an unfair advantage over the competing slate.
Unfortunately for Plante, his misstep was less forgivable. A screenshot that was anonymously released to The Daily Aztec shows him using a homophobic slur and encouraging his friends to “black out” with him in a fraternity GroupMe. He issued an apology earlier this week.
For us, Plante’s use of a homophobic slur is all we needed to know about his character. Although many college students can relate to the idea of wanting to get drunk with friends, using insensitive language like that makes us doubt his level of genuine allyship with the LGBTQIA+ community and his solidarity with other minority groups.
We don’t doubt Plante’s ability to lead a large group of students – as seen through his presidential position with the Interfraternity Council – but we cannot forget that he led that faction of Greek life during Dylan Hernandez’s death last semester, leading to the suspension of all IFC chapters. Encouraging fraternity members to “black out” with him while the entire system is attempting to undergo a massive culture change when it comes to drinking does not sit well with us when considering good leadership.
Executive Vice President: Ubaldo Martinez, Serve SDSYOU
Although both candidates for executive vice president are highly qualified, we chose to endorse Ubaldo Martinez over his competitor Bella Martelino because we think his experience puts him a few steps ahead.
Martinez’s background is extremely diverse, from his involvement in Greenfest to being the president of Rotaract. It is clear he is close to the student body in many ways and would bring a service-oriented mindset to the position.
We also liked how Martinez brought concrete ideas to the table, such as his proposition to push for more mental health services and place important psychological resources on the backs of everybody’s student IDs. These kinds of propositions show us Martinez’s head is in the right place when it comes to supporting students.
That is not to say Martelino is not a highly qualified candidate. She has sat on numerous A.S. councils and her involvement with Greek life brings her close to one of the most significant communities on campus. As only a sophomore, we believe Martelino would make a highly successful executive candidate in a future election year.
Vice President of University Affairs: Crystal Sanchez, SDSU 2020 Vision
Much like many of this year’s executive positions, we believe both Crystal Sanchez and Sophie Chance would do great things if they were voted into office. Both of them bring diverse backgrounds to the table as well as strong propositions.
The Daily Aztec chose to support Sanchez because we find her experience slightly more relevant to the position and think she is strong when it comes to connecting with the larger student body.
In her candidate interview with The Daily Aztec, Sanchez talked about how she works 20 hours a week at Big City Bagels and would like to prioritize making college more affordable for all students. These are both things that show us she can relate to the average SDSU student.
We also have high respect for her involvement with Dance Marathon, one of SDSU’s most successful philanthropic programs.
This by no means is meant to characterize Chance as an unqualified or unrelatable candidate, as she too excels in both those areas. We were impressed with her strong background in finance, which has helped to improve many organizations on campus.
We simply did not find Chance’s experience as relevant to the position at hand as Sanchez’s.
Vice President of Financial Affairs: David Gamble, Serve SDSYOU
This is yet another race where the differences between each candidate were, frankly, negligible.
Both David Gamble and Victor Penera bring strong ideas to the table, and we believe either of them would excel in the job. Both of them displayed strong communication during last week’s debate, which showed them as mostly being on the same page when it comes to important issues such as financial transparency.
The one thing that puts Gamble a step ahead of his opponent is his two-year involvement with Aztecs Rock Hunger, which is the main project handed down to each year’s vice president of financial affairs.
Vice President of External Relations: Armando Sepulveda II, Serve SDSYOU
Historically, The Daily Aztec has been hesitant to endorse candidates who are running unopposed like Armando Sepulveda II as this presents students with a lack of choice.
But given students only have one choice for this position, we are glad it is Sepulveda II.
His experience in politics is made stronger by the fact he has worked for campaigns on both sides of the aisle, despite being vice president of the College Democrats. As chair of the A.S. Lobby Corps, it is clear he is prepared to lobby for students at a higher level.
Voting for A.S. elections opened on March 23 and will close on March 26. Students may vote online through their webportal accounts.