SA Candidate Profiles

Huerta, Rotella: SA outsider and insider join forces

Michael Ray Huerta for President

Student Association presidential candidate junior Michael Ray Huerta said he is an “SA outsider,” but he’s not ashamed of it.

“Look at the people who are running for president who have been involved (in the SA), what have they done for you?” said Huerta, who is a house proctor. “Not working in the SA is my biggest strength; I’m the most qualified and the candidate with the most diverse experience running.”

Huerta is running as part of the Students for Progress slate, which he said is a diverse group of students who, although different, share a focus on making small changes that will affect student life.

“We have an amazing student body … students work so hard for each other; it’s about time the SA worked hard for students,” said Huerta, who is running with SA executive vice presidential candidate Chris Rotella, a junior.

“The way we do that is not by big ideas, it’s not by big changes and it’s not by changing the foundation of the University,” he said. “The best way that the SA will work for students is by making progress. Progress that affects the day to day life of students.”

The slate is focused on three major issues – free BlackBoard printing, improving Student Health Services and extending hours in the Marvin Center, Academic Center and Duqu?s Hall.

Huerta said that his experience with administrators makes him the best candidate to make change at GW.

“Things get done at GW by your one-on-one connections and relationships with students and administrators,” Huerta said. “Of any presidential candidate, I have the best relationships with administrators.”

Hadas Gold

Chris Rotella for EVP

If elected as Student Association executive vice president, Chris Rotella wouldn’t be new to chairing the senate.

Rotella, a junior, is a second-year senator from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and serves as the chair of the SA Senate Rules Committee – a position that has the responsibility of conducting senate meetings when the EVP is not present.

“Running the senate isn’t easy,” said Rotella, who is running on the Students for Progress slate with SA presidential candidate Michael Ray Huerta, a junior. “Without experience there will be a learning curve.”

Rotella said he is running to help bridge the gap he sees between students and administrators. If elected, he said he plans to bring the SA Senate’s proposals over to the University administrators at Rice Hall.

He added that he would set up meetings with Rice Hall administrators in order to increase communication between the senate and the University administration.

In addition, Rotella said he would have student organization presidents come and talk to the senate about their programs, in order to give SA senators a “fuller picture.”

“The Student Association provides a unique opportunity,” said Rotella. “It can advocate for students. It can be a voice for students.”

Rotella said he is not content to remain a SA senator because he believes that he can do more to help students by becoming the EVP.

“As a senator there is not much you can do to affect the agenda, or to turn the SA into an organization that students can really benefit from,” Rotella said.

-Frank Broomell

“Experience matters” with Pond and Cooper

Casey Pond for President

Casey Pond is back for one more shot at the Student Association’s top job.

Pond, a junior, who finished fifth in a field of seven in last year’s SA presidential election, said he will focus the SA’s efforts on student advocacy if he is elected.

“I want to turn the SA into an organization that proactively advocates on student issues,” said Pond, who serves as director of the SA Dining Services Commission. “I’ve had the ability to see where the SA succeeds and where it fails. The best thing the SA does is advocacy.”

Pond said that the SA needs to become more involved in policy decisions that affect students, in order to increase the effectiveness of the organization.

“The SA needs to become part of the decision-making process on campus,” said Pond, who is running with SA executive vice presidential candidate Andrew Cooper, a sophomore. “If students had a greater role in day-to-day issues, the SA could more effectively advocate for student organizations.”

As a sophomore, Pond served as former SA President Audai Shakour’s vice president of public affairs.

Following his loss in the SA election, Pond was appointed to direct the Dining Services Commission, which is responsible for advising administrators on GW dining services on behalf of the student body. GW switched its dining services provider from Aramark to Sodexho last year, prompting many eatery changes on campus.

Although he lost the election last year, Pond said that he found a winning approach toward campus elections.

“I’ve discovered that running for SA president is not about who has the fanciest signs or the best handouts,” he said. “It’s really about making personal connections and having people who believe in you.”

– Nathan Grossman

Andrew Cooper for EVP

Summing up his campaign, Student Association executive vice presidential candidate Andrew Cooper says, “experience matters.”

Cooper, a sophomore, has served as the vice president of public affairs under SA President Lamar Thorpe.

“I have worked with the SA for two years now, first as a staff member working on odds and ends for the senate and executive,” said Cooper, who is running with SA presidential candidate Casey Pond, a junior.

During the SA-Hatchet Candidates Debate on Thursday, Cooper said that the executive vice president should to work closely with senators.

“There is nothing more important that promoting a vision,” Cooper said. “I would meet with senators about legislation, so we can pass legislation.”

In October, Cooper chaired the SA relief effort for Gallaudet University students and met with members of the senate and executive to discuss an appropriate response to the Gallaudet student protest over their next University president.

After heated debate, the SA executive decided not to use the group’s money to support the students.

Cooper said their platform, called “experience matters,” focuses on three areas – “empowerment, innovation and responsibility.”

“(With empowerment,) Casey and I both want students to be brought into the governing process, the senate meetings, and to be involved in these matters.”

Cooper said that “innovation” includes a switch from the CMail e-mail account that is provided by the University to GMail, to expand the e-mail quotas.

– Nicholas Profeta and Andrew Ramonas

Capp pushing “GWInformed”

Nicole Capp for President

Nicole Capp, a sophomore, is the only female and the youngest candidate amid a crowd of junior males running for SA president.

Capp, who has served as a freshman non-voting senator and now serves as a senator from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, said she has achieved a lot during her two years in the senate.

“I have brought dozens of student organizations through the bureaucratic mess of the SA to help them fund and organize their programming as vice-chair of the SA finance committee,” said Capp, who is running without an executive vice presidential candidate.

Capp said that she is most proud of her efforts to keep the student body informed through bi-monthly newsletters and one-on-one meetings with student organization leaders, which she has done throughout her time in the senate.

If elected SA president, Capp said she plans to expand upon the work she has started in the senate.

Capp’s platform for SA president consists of three main initiatives- “GWorld All Over, GW411 and GWInformed.”

“GWORLD All Over” is a plan to bring more options and locations to the GWORLD Card, including a grocery store, Capp said.

“GW411” is an initiative to turn wasted SA funding and office space into a 24/7-student support center where students can go with all of their problems, Capp said.

“GWInformed” is Capp’s philosophy.

“I will keep no student out of the loop by having town hall meetings and regular publications on all meetings with the (University) administration,” Capp said. “The SA can’t act as a secret society.”

-Juliette Dallas-Feeney

Abanto, D’Addario hope to work for

“progress” in the Student Association

Marc Abanto fro President

A two-year veteran of the Student Association Senate, junior Marc Abanto (U-At Large) believes his experience makes him “uniquely qualified” to be the group’s president.

Abanto, a member of the Student Union slate, said students often express their dissatisfaction with the SA’s lack of progress on certain issues. However, he said he believes that if interested and motivated students are elected, the organization can be productive.

Abanto said the three main points of his platform are reforming health and safety inspections so that students could receive confiscated items back at the end of the year, creating an internship database for students to share their experiences and reducing transcript fees.

This year, Abanto served as chair of the student life committee, where he helped create resolutions that called for the University to provide increased information on off campus housing, condemned the State Plaza Hotel for not allowing its employees to unionize and asked the university to take it off its “places to stay” list.

As a sophomore, Abanto co-founded the Colonial Coach program that provides students with free bus service to Dulles airport during the Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks.

However, Abanto said he believes that with dedicated and hardworking students, the SA can succeed under the current structure.

“I think we proved this year that if you put the right people in the SA the SA can do the right things,” Abanto said.

He said he knows how important it is to “have the open door,” and that he planned to work to eliminate fighting and bickering within the Senate.

“We need to be a united front in advocating to the University,” Abanto said.

-Sarah Karlin

Nick D’Addario for EVP

Junior Nick D’Addario is running for executive vice president on a platform focused on progress and issues that he says directly affect the majority of the student body.

“I want to build on the progress that they (current SA president Lamar Thorpe and EVP Josh Lasky) have built,” he said.

D’Addario has served as vice president of Undergraduate Student Policy and as an SA senator over the last two years. He ran an unsuccessful presidential campaign last year.

SA meetings would run more smoothly if he is elected, D’Addario said. To conduct a successful meeting, “it takes someone who won’t politicize the process, and I won’t. I am very much able to work with everyone.”

If elected, one goal D’Addario has is to increase direct student involvement in the issues the SA takes up.

“The more people that are involved, the more legitimate the SA is to the administration,” he said. One way he can do this, he said, is to have closer relationships with leaders of student organizations.

Referendums are another key way D’Addario said he hopes to improve student involvement in SA activities. “Student referendums on top issues … show the administration that the SA has (student) support,” he said.

D’Addario said he will strengthen the relationship between the administration and the SA. The presence of a new University president next year will give the new SA leaders a unique opportunity to forge ties to the administration, he said.

The Green GW initiative is something that D’Addario hopes to continue if he is elected and he hopes to set GW on course to be one of the most environmentally friendly universities in the country by 2027.

“It won’t hurt the University’s pocket book much, and it will be good for the environment,” he said.

D’Addario is proud of his SA record, but said he thinks there is a lot more to be done. “We should focus on small changes,” he said. “If you focus on small, tangible goals, you can really affect someone’s life.”

-Ian Janetta

Bell-Krasner wants the “SA your way”

Elliot Bell Krasner

Student Association Executive Vice Presidential candidate Elliot Bell-Krasner said he is no stranger to student government turmoil and controversy.

When former SA President Audai Shakour was charged with sexual harassment in November 2005, four of his advisors resigned from his administration for reasons they said were unrelated. But Bell-Krasner, a junior, chose to stay on board Shakour’s cabinet.

“It was not because of Audai, but because of my commitment to student government,” said Bell-Krasner, who served as director of transfer student affairs under Shakour. “I have a burning desire for public service; a passion, you would say.”

While in the SA, Bell-Krasner witnessed the challenges having controversy in student government can bring to the group’s image.

“Transfer students had problems with the GW administration, which expected the same (academic requirements) of them as other students,” said Bell-Krasner, who transferred from the University of Hartford his sophomore year. “However, my concerns fell on deaf ears due to the infighting (in the SA).”

Unlike many of the other SA candidates, Bell-Krasner’s name will not be found on posters advertising candidate slates because Bell-Krasner is running as an independent.

“The Student Association should not be a political organization,” Bell-Krasner said. “It should not have party politics. If I see a group of senators who happen to be from the same slate banding together to support unpopular legislation, I will ask them to put their personal views aside and consider what’s best for students.”

A longtime resident of the Boston area, Bell-Krasner carries an “official membership card of Red Sox nation” and admires the service ideals promoted by President John F. Kennedy.

Bell-Krasner said, “I am not asking what students can do for GW, but what I can do for students.”

-Adam R. Tannenbaum

Wilkinson and Kroeger want to be

a “breath of fresh air”

David “Tito” Wilkinson for President

“A competent breath of fresh air” is what junior David “Tito” Wilkinson says he will bring to the Student Association if elected president.

An international business and finance major, Wilkinson has not previously served in the SA but said his fresh perspective will be advantageous.

“My main goal is to show people that being an outsider is good,” Wilkinson said. “I have no ties or loyalties to the old way of doing things in the SA.”

Wilkinson and executive vice president running mate Brand Kroeger have organized a three-tier platform for their campaign.

First, they plan to put pressure on the University to expand wireless capabilities around campus. Second, they plan to bring free newspapers and Colonial Invasion – a fall spirit event – back to GW, both of which were eliminated due to budget cuts this year. Wilkinson hopes to fund the pep rally with a corporate sponsorship and open the event to all athletic teams, not just the basketball team.

Finally, Wilkinson and Kroeger plan to increase support for student organizations by pairing each student organization with an SA senator. Each senator will be linked with five to seven student organizations and will serve as their connection to the SA.

Although he has no previous SA experience, Wilkinson was roommates with former SA President Audai Shakour last year and has had a lot of SA exposure. Wilkinson said he has built many SA relationships, attended senate meetings and has “seen a lot of things that need change.”

“Both Brand and I are principled, not political,” Wilkinson said. “Neither of us have Hill ambitions; we are just deeply committed to serving our fellow students.”

Wilkinson said he hopes to bring a new level of dedication and connection with students to the SA presidential position.

“A boss says ‘go,’ but a leader says ‘let’s go,'” Wilkinson said. “That’s the kind of president I would be.”

– Melissa Attias

Brand Kroeger for EVP

Executive vice presidential candidate Brand Kroeger said he understands the potential of the Student Association.

“I’ve got a unique perspective on what good the SA can do,” said Kroeger, who is the vice chair of the GW College Republicans and was the assistant vice president of student activities under the current SA president Lamar Thrope, Kroeger said he became aware of the potential of the SA.

“We’re a competent breathe of fresh air,” said Kroeger, referring to himself and David “Tito” Wilkinson, his running mate and candidate for SA President. Kroeger said if elected, their main goals are: to expand wireless capabilities, bring back Colonial Invasion and free newspapers in dorm halls, and give more support for student groups.

Better support of student organizations from the SA is one of Kroeger’s main goals. His “baby,” as Kroeger described it, is a project that assigns each senator five to seven student organizations. These senators will serve as advocates for the groups in the SA, leading to better representation.

Kroeger stated that one of the biggest problems with the SA is its non-responsive nature, which creates a disconnection between the SA and students. He praised the SA’s past accomplishments but stressed the fact that it is “too often bogged down in the most expensive, grandiose ideas.”

Kroeger acknowledges that his platform goals require a great deal of money and has worked out strategies to obtain the necessary funding. He proposes cutting the executive budget, getting corporate sponsors for Colonial Invasion and striking deals with newspapers to accomplish their platform goals. Kroeger also supports the phased increase in student fees, which he calls a “solution for the future” since it would affect only future GW students.

“I’ve got the drive, energy and tenacity to make things happen,” Kroeger said.

– Ruby Carlson

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