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UISG elections sees first multi-party year in three years

BY ANNA THEODOSIS | MARCH 22, 2012 6:30 AM

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Two parties will vie for University of Iowa Student Government seats for the upcoming academic term after three years of single-party "contests."

Candidates from the parties say they will try to make more direct contact with student voters throughout the campaign.

"This is a great opportunity for people to see their elected student government members compete," said Nic Pottebaum, the presidential hopeful for the I Party. "We really want to engage as many students as possible [in the elections]."

The UI junior, who serves as the speaker, has been in UISG for three years. Jessie Tobin, current secretary of the Senate, is running alongside Pottebaum as the vice-presidential candidate.

The # (Hashtag) Party presidential candidate, Sunny Kothari, said most of the party members are new faces to the UISG scene — they have never held a position on the governing body before.

"We're bringing together 35 people [on our ticket] who are new to student government," said the UI junior and current UISG senator. "These people are key players on campus, they're already representing the groups that they work with, and we want those types of people representing the students."

UI sophomore Nick Rolston is running alongside Kothari as the vice-presidential candidate.

Kothari and Rolston said the # (Hashtag) Party has three main focuses: student engagement, safety, and sustainability. Though campaigners cannot discuss their campaign issues until the kickoff March 26, Rolston said student involvement with UISG is high on the priority list.

"We want to directly give back to the students," Rolston said. "We really want to bring student government to the students."

Pottebaum said that the I Party's three platforms — inform, improve, and impact — would work like steps.

"It's an umbrella of issues," he said. "There's academic life, campus life, and off-campus life. In addition, our focus is going to be on the everyday experience for students. We recognized [we need] to build support on whatever initiative it may be."

Pottebaum also said he hopes to improve the student community by bringing people together from different organizations.

"We've got every interest group and every organization represented on the ticket," he said. "We're planning on winning."

Kothari said if elected, he'd like to see a varied group of students brought into the UISG office.

"If we're able [to bring together representatives from all student groups on campus], it'd be cool to see a room full of diversity," he said. "We're mixing it up."

Kothari also said the party's hashtag symbolizes its new way of approaching things.

"We want to show people that we're recent, we're new, we're fresh," he said. "It's a small phrase, but it means big things."

UISG President Elliot Higgins said the contested election is a promising sign for the upcoming academic year.

"I think it shows that there's interest in student government," Higgins said. "I think the debate gives the community a sense of who is the best candidate for next year."

Presidential candidates will debate March 29, followed by a vice-presidential debate on April 2.


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