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Lone party vies for top UI Student Government positions

BY MICHELLE HILLENBRAND | MARCH 09, 2010 7:30 AM

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For the first time in at least 30 years, a University of Iowa student government presidential candidate will run unopposed.

In fact, Gordon Sonnenschein, director of the UISG Student Elections Board, said he doesn’t think it’s ever happened before.

Petitions for president and vice president were due at 4 p.m. Monday. But when the deadline passed, Sonnenschein had received only one ticket.

UI juniors John Rigby, the current executive senator, and Erica Hayes, the current speaker of the Senate, will team up as presidential and vice-presidential candidates on the lone ticket in this year’s student-government elections.

Despite the lack of opposition, both Rigby and Hayes said they will still actively campaign.

“The main idea behind a campaign is to know what you stand for,” Rigby said. “Running a strong campaign is still important.”

The campaign will begin on March 29, culminating with a vote spanning April 7 and 8. In both 2007 and 2008, around 30 percent of students voted for their student body representatives. In 2009, that number dipped to just above 20 percent.

Rigby and Hayes said they couldn’t discuss the specifics of their plans yet, because of Student Election Board policy, but have been actively preparing for months.

“We recognize that campaigning is part of the culture on campus,” Hayes said. “We still hope to make our presence known.”

Though the pair said they had anticipated other candidates, running unopposed could reduce the personal nature of campaigning.

“We feel like we can do some of the stuff we view as important and not have to worry about some of the minor negative issues that have come up in previous years,” Rigby said.

In 2008, students had four parties to choose from. In 2009, there were just three president/vice-president combinations on the ballot.

Although Rigby has not seen an overall decrease in interest concerning UISG involvement, Sonnenschein said, the anomaly of a lone ticket could be the result of people considering Rigby and Hayes to be great candidates.

“They are probably pretty intimidating people to run against,” he said.

While UISG will still need to hold a vote for Senate positions, Sonnenschein said, it will most likely hold a “vote of confidence” for the president and vice-president positions. It will take a few weeks to iron out the specifics, he said, because there is no written precedent for the Student Elections Board to follow.

Annual presidential debates, scheduled for early April, will also change this year. Rather than the usual debates, UISG will most likely host an open forum in which faculty, staff, and undergraduate students can listen to Rigby and Hayes discuss their platform and ask any questions, Sonnenschein said.

As they continue to prepare for the campaign, Rigby and Hayes will wait to hear from the Student Elections Board about final campaign specifics.


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