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Candidates announce upcoming campaigns for USAC presidency

By Melody Hanatani

March 3, 2004 9:00 p.m.

There are still two months left until the election season begins
for next year’s undergraduate student government, and some
presidential hopefuls are already beginning to form their campaigns
and strategies.

This year’s campaign for the presidency of the
Undergraduate Students Association Council is expected to be a
three-way race with two candidates running under different slates
and an independent.

The competition is expected to take form between General
Representative Josh Lawson, a Students First! candidate and
outsider Doug Ludlow, president of Bruin Democrats. Members of the
SF! slate say they have not yet discussed who their candidate will

Lawson announced his candidacy for the presidency last week,
while also announcing the creation of a new slate under which
he will run.

Lawson said the slate, dubbed the Equal Access Coalition, will
focus on increasing accessibility to the student government and its
resources. Lawson was formerly a member of the Students United for
Reform and Equality slate, but left citing ideological differences
with the slate and its leadership.

The new slate will meet its challenge when it runs against the
dominant SF! slate, which currently holds a majority of council
seats. A powerhouse within campus politics, SF! is supported by
several large student organizations such as the Asian Pacific
Coalition, African Student Union and MEChA.

Still, Lawson remains optimistic about winning the presidency
and said the strong support of large organizations for SF! will not
hinder his chances.

“Those groups do not themselves represent the UCLA
community,” Lawson said, referring to the groups that support
SF!. “The numbers are not in favor of Students First! as they
would like them to be.”

Members of SF! have remained silent about their choice for next
year’s presidential candidate, saying no talks have yet taken
place about a potential candidate. 

The possibility of a current SF! councilmember running for the
presidency is unlikely. Internal Vice President Allende
Palma/Saracho, who some expected to run, said he will graduate this

External Vice President Matt Kaczmarek said he will also not run
for the presidency and will graduate at the end of this year.

Some SF! members, such as Facilities Commissioner Tutram
Nguyen and General Representative Linda Lam, have not had much
productivity out of their offices this year, making their
presidential candidacies unlikely.

Anica McKesey, USAC president and SF! member, said the slate
will evaluate itself to determine whether it will continue next
year under the same platform and same name. Over the past several
years, the slate has transformed itself under different names such
as Student Empowerment! and Praxis.

Traditionally, a SF! candidate has been a leader from one of
their supporting base groups. McKesey herself was the chairwoman of
the African Student Union.

Another prominent slate in the past, SURE, will not be running a
candidate for the presidency after dissolving when Lawson left the

Jewish Student Union President Gideon Baum, who lost his bid for
internal vice president under the SURE ticket last year, said SURE
members will be rebuilding the slate this year and will focus on
the 2005 election.

This year’s election will also bring a new slate-less face
to the presidential race.

Ludlow, president of the Bruin Democrats and a former Daily
Bruin Viewpoint columnist, rounds out the list of candidates.

Ludlow said he is running as an independent because he believes
slates have become a problem for USAC.

“When one group comes into power, they run everything in a
block and fund the people they want,” Ludlow said.
“When you join a slate, you instantly create friends as well
as enemies and it helps you get elected but adds gridlock once
council is in session.”

But Lawson argued that because the president has little direct
power over council, a slate is needed to support the president if
council has a block of seats opposing the president.

Slate politics has been apparent throughout this year and has
divided council on several occasions.

One such dividing issue was a Judicial Board case between the
Jewish Student Union and USAC over funding allocations. Lawson
dissented against the majority of council when he released a
document alleging unfair funding for student groups, saying that
funding was decided along slate lines.

Though running without the support of a slate, Ludlow said he is
confident about winning, maintaining that many students are
disinterested in USAC and hopes to draw those students into this
year’s election process.

“I would like to target the 20,000 students who
didn’t vote last year,” Ludlow said.

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Melody Hanatani
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