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Candidates prepare for ASG election

Libby Nelson

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Jay Schumacher and Rishi Taparia have been preparing their campaigns for ASG’s elections next week – but they were gearing up to face opponents who don’t exist.

The candidates for president and executive vice president are running unopposed, making this year the first time the presidential election has been uncontested in at least the last decade, according to ASG adviser Mark Witte.

“(The lack of candidates) is very upsetting,” ASG election commissioner Jack Vrett said. “These people wield a lot of power, probably more than most students recognize, and now they can just walk into the office because no one else is running – It’s a shame that it’s not a bigger deal.”

Two students are running for student services vice president: Weinberg junior Leah Witt and Communication junior Adi Shankar.

The race for academic vice president has three candidates: Jordan Fox, a Communication junior, Weinberg junior Josiah Jenkins and McCormick sophomore Anna Xu.

Schumacher, a Communication junior and ASG’s current EVP, is the only candidate for president. Taparia, a Communication sophomore and member of the executive committee, is the only candidate for EVP.

While Schumacher refused to speculate on the lack of presidential contenders, Vrett said ASG’s visibility on campus has an effect.

“It seems to be that when there’s a controversy (surrounding ASG), it seems to be more accessible,” Vrett said. “Students think about running for office to get in there and fix problems. This year ASG has had a low profile in some ways.”

Schumacher and Taparia both cited the level of knowledge and experience needed for EVP as a reason why students would choose not to run.

“EVP is a very specific job,” Taparia said. “It takes a certain level of experience. If you look at past EVPs, Jay was on the executive committee for two years before running (last year). I’m on the committee. It’s tough if you’re not on the committee to come in and run.”

Vrett said that the lack of presidential candidates also raises questions about ASG’s legitimacy and viability, leaving the president and EVP without a mandate from the student body. But Schumacher said a mandate isn’t necessary to get things done.

“This isn’t U.S. politics,” Schumacher said. “On a campus, it’s built on personal relationships. I’m more concerned about building those relationships than about winning with 70 percent of the vote. If I win with 51 percent of the vote and establish a lot of great connections, I’ll be happy with that.”

Because the elections for president and EVP are uncontested, voters will have the choice to indicate dissatisfaction with the candidate by choosing “no confidence.” Vrett said the procedure following a “no confidence” win is unclear, but both candidates said they weren’t worried about that outcome.

“Should people choose to vote ‘no confidence,’ I would want to know why,” Taparia said. “I hope to say to students ‘This is who I am, this is what I’m running for, this is why I’m running,’ and if you have problems or issues with that, let me know and we’ll talk about it.”

Last year, although six students ran for president, the SSVP and EVP positions were uncontested. Although “no confidence” was a ballot option, both candidates won by a large margin, receiving “no confidence” votes of less than 6 percent.

Reach Libby Nelson at libbynelson@northwestern.edu.

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