Endorsements

CANDIDATES

Jason Bellet

SQUELCH!

Second-Rank: DeeJay Pepito, CalSERVE

The ASUC needs a president who can be a uniting force — a leader who can leverage the often conflicting interests of different factions within the student body. An ideal ASUC president is someone whom all students can rally around. The job demands someone who, in a moment of crisis, can be a decisive leader to whom others are inclined to listen.

Jason Bellet is just that kind of candidate. Running with SQUELCH!, he is the most formidable third-party candidate for executive office in recent memory. And for good reason, too. He has a kind of mass appeal unparalleled by anyone else in the race. Faced with contentious campus climate issues, Bellet is the candidate most likely to bring divergent groups together because of his background as a SQUELCH! senator.

More specifically, Bellet has proposed creating a council of leaders from different student communities to keep the ASUC accountable and foster more collaboration. This would be the perfect group to consult when navigating a particularly tense campus climate issue. The ASUC president should be in touch with how students are feeling across different communities, and Bellet has the clearest plan for doing so.

But he has tough competition from CalSERVE candidate DeeJay Pepito. Pepito is an accomplished ASUC senator with an admirable skill set. Just recently, she showed spectacular leadership in bringing sexual assault to the forefront of public debate on campus through a senate bill she helped advance that sharply criticizes campus policies. Pepito would make a phenomenal ASUC president. She deserves a second-rank vote.

As for the others in the race, Student Action candidate Rafi Lurie falls short of the kind of leadership skills and assertiveness offered by Bellet and Pepito. He comes across as a candidate who would be less willing to challenge the will of the new chancellor and other figures of authority. He’s capable, but there are simply better options this year. Defend Affirmative Action Party candidate David Douglass, meanwhile, indicated at The Daily Californian’s election forum that he would try to use executive authority too broadly — he doesn’t seem to understand the limits of his position and would be an extremely divisive leader.

In the end, Bellet’s emphatic focus on bridge-building makes him the strongest candidate. For too long, the ASUC has been statically and frequently unnecessarily divided by a two-party system — he has the best shot at changing that.

Vote Jason Bellet for ASUC president.

Nolan Pack

calserve

Students have an easy decision to make when it comes to selecting next year’s executive vice president, because the most qualified person for the position is running for it. CalSERVE candidate Nolan Pack’s litany of accomplishments as an ASUC senator are wide-ranging and impressive, but more importantly, they make him uniquely positioned to serve as the student government’s second-ranking executive. He is unquestionably the best choice for EVP.

The EVP plays an indispensable role managing the ASUC Senate and working with student groups. As one of the most industrious senators this term, Pack is prepared to lead in those areas. His particular involvement with the ASUC Deficit Task Force speaks to his ability to keep senate funding of student groups on track. And his creation of UC Berkeley’s Student Environmental Resource Center is just one of many credentials that show he can get things done.

Next year, the EVP will need to continue actively work on the Lower Sproul Plaza renovation project. Pack, having served as a voting member of the advisory committee on moving student groups out of Eshleman Hall, has both the ideas and the logistical know-how to keep the project moving forward in students’ best interests. His background has given him a clear understanding of student space needs, and he is the only candidate who seems to really comprehend the importance of picking the right vendors for the new plaza.

Student Action candidate Chen-Chen Huo, also a current senator, seems uninspired and relatively unaccomplished when compared to Pack. One of his most tangible goals, an entrepreneurial fund that he wants to create for students, sounds nice but also worrisome. If students are going to manage such a complex money-lending process, the idea needs to be thoroughly vetted, and that does not seem to be the case here.

In the end, students can count on Pack to be an effective EVP because he has been an effective senator. From the bills he has passed across party lines to his leadership in the queer and environmental communities, he’s shown time and again that he can deliver results.

Vote Nolan Pack for executive vice president.

★ Development editor Alisha Azevedo is in the same fraternity as Student Action candidate Chen-Chen Huo and therefore recused herself from discussions of the EVP race.

Safeena Mecklai

Student Action

The external affairs vice president essentially functions as the ASUC’s most visible lobbyist, both within the broader UC system and to the local community in Berkeley. As such, the position requires someone who can be a successful communicator in both areas. Student Action candidate Safeena Mecklai fits that mold best this year.

Mecklai has what it takes to mobilize UC Berkeley students behind a single cause — a skill she developed through her background as Vote Coalition deputy under current External Affairs Vice President Shahryar Abbasi. In that role, she led a campaign that registered thousands of students to vote in the general election last semester. Coupled with her experience interning for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, this background builds a convincing case for Mecklai’s ability to productively lobby on behalf of students in California’s ongoing fight for public higher education funding.

On the city level, Mecklai would further the goal of electing a student to Berkeley City Council. In contrast, CalSERVE candidate Spencer Pritchard stated at the candidates forum that there should instead be two council districts composed of mostly students because students make up roughly one-fourth of the Berkeley population. From a purely mathematical perspective, that makes sense, but Mecklai’s plan is more attainable.

That being said, Pritchard’s stress on protecting the rights of student tenants is extremely important. And admittedly, he also has credentials in similar areas as Mecklai. He is a strong candidate, but ultimately, Mecklai’s vision for the office is superior to his. Her other opponent, Defend Affirmative Action Party candidate Pedro Hernandez, gives the impression that he would focus on larger issues at the expense of his other duties.

Mecklai already knows what she’s doing. Her time in the external affairs office this year, her tenure as an ASUC senator last year and her bold yet pragmatic plan for the office make her the best candidate.

Vote Safeena Mecklai for external affairs vice president.

★ Blog editor Jasmine Mausner is in the same sorority as Student Action candidate Safeena Mecklai and therefore recused herself from discussions of the EAVP race.

Valerie Jameson

CalSERVE

Among the three candidates vying for the position of ASUC academic affairs vice president, Valerie Jameson of CalSERVE is without a doubt the most promising. She has shown a mastery of the office’s potential unparalleled by any of her competitors, and she would be an adept executive official.

Already, Jameson has partnered with CalSERVE Senator Daley Vertiz to get a bill passed by the ASUC Senate creating a student textbook scholarship. As AAVP, she would expand that resource to alleviate an obstructive financial burden for UC Berkeley students who need it most. Beyond that, she is cognizant that the new honor code needs more work — an issue the other candidates neglected to substantially address at The Daily Californian’s ASUC election forum.

Student Action candidate Ryan Kang, Jameson’s closest competition, has comparatively weak platforms. Specifically, the Test Prep Center he intends to establish is commendable in theory, but he hasn’t made a convincing case for why it is better than other test prep options or how exactly it would be put together. Though Christina Hamilton is easily the Defend Affirmative Action Party’s strongest candidate this year, she outlined an approach to the office that seemed ignorant of practicality.

Jameson’s outlook on the position of AAVP is the right one. She knows that ensuring students’ academic success requires approaching education from a holistic perspective. Issues like mental health and a lack of culturally relevant curriculum can’t be ignored — electing Jameson will safely guarantee they won’t be.

Vote Valerie Jameson for academic affairs vice president.

Timofey Semenov

Independent

Independent candidate Timofey Semenov is ready to be the next ASUC student advocate. As chief of staff to current Student Advocate Stacy Suh, Semenov will bring unmatched consistency and an experienced background to an office that needs those qualities in order to operate smoothly.

Semenov has shown an interest in getting student input on the campus’s protest response team. The team was formed by campus administrators in 2012 in the wake of widespread public backlash to the way they handled the Occupy Cal demonstrations in fall 2011. While there has yet to be another major campus demonstration of a similar scale that would test the response team’s adequacy, Semenov is right to proactively ensure that the team is accountable to students when it has to handle a major protest in the future.

Semenov has also admirably emphasized how he wants to infuse the conduct process with a greater sense of restorative justice. To do this, he proposes that certain non contentious cases should become mediation-based instead of being drawn out in conduct proceedings. Such a logical and innovative alteration will make the conduct process more productive.

Defend Affirmative Action Party candidate Kyle McCoy deserves respect for his enthusiasm, but his passion is misplaced. McCoy doesn’t seem to understand that the student advocate should not be a partisan position. It is an office that needs to be held by an impartial individual who can work with any student.

Consequently, Semenov is a clear winner. He is the only candidate who comprehends the proper role the student advocate must play within the ASUC, and after five semesters working in the office, students should have little doubt that he is prepared to lead it. Vote Timofey Semenov for student advocate.

Vote Timothy Semenov for student advocate.