ASUCR hosts special elections to fill vacant president pro tempore and school of public policy senator positions

On Wednesday, Jan. 23, ASUCR held a special election to fill the vacant president pro tempore and School of Public Policy (SPP) senator positions after Preeti Juturu, who formerly held both positions, publicly resigned at the ASUCR meeting on Jan. 8.

The election began with speeches from each candidate running for the School of Public Policy senator position. Each candidate, who was required to be a public policy major, was given two minutes to give a speech. Afterwards, they’d answer questions asked by senators, executive cabinet members and directors. All candidates were asked to wait outside while one candidate gave their two minute speech.

Ana Sofia Valdez, a third year, was the first candidate to present their speech. Valdez stated that she has a great ability to work with others and would reach out to students through social media, surveys and would hold campus discussions with students. CHASS Senator Angel Cuevas asked Valdez if she had any idea what her senator project would be. Valdez stated that the biggest project she would work on is better communication with the student body.

After Valdez’s speech, fourth-year Roshanae Brooks gave her speech. Brooks stated that she is interested in health care policy and reform. She stated that health care policy is personal to her as she has sickle cell anemia, a disorder that causes red blood cells to become misshapen and break down. She stated that she has had the opportunity to lobby to California Senator Diane Feinstein about health care policy reform, specifically, pediatric reform.

Samuel Roberts, a fourth year, was then called into the senate chambers and gave his speech. Roberts has been a public policy ambassador for SPP for two years. He stated that he is involved with the UC Office of the President (UCOP) and has helped write a piece of legislation that proposes that a feature be added onto R’Web that will allow students to register to vote in under two minutes through studentvote.org. He also is working on legislation that would offer free Lyft rides for students on election days.

Leo Yue//HIGHLANDER

Roberts was also asked by Cuevas what he intends his senator project to be if he is elected. Roberts stated that his project would revolve around voter registration and potentially creating a student democracy day that would make election days a school holiday.

Emily Thomas, a second year, then gave her speech. She stated that as a commuter, she is interested and invested in commuter issues on campus. Thomas said that she believes there is a disconnect between resident and commuter students at UCR. She said that if she were elected, she would want to create a committee for commuter students. Thomas is involved with the Student Relations Committee and she is working on getting Riverside county council members to visit UCR’s campus to talk about student issues. She is also the City Relations Committee assistant director.

After Thomas’ speech, third-year Brian Piche-Cifuentes gave his speech. Piche-Cifuentes stated that he is part of Lobby Corps and, as senator, he hopes to connect with public policy students through consistent communication with the SPP Dean Anil Deolalikarto to discuss student issues.

The last candidate to present a speech was fourth-year Javier Ramos. Ramos stated that he has been involved in ASUCR in some capacity for the past three years. He was in the City Relations Committee during his first year and the community director for the vice president of external affairs for the past two years. He stated that as community director he focused on local policy, specifically, renter rights.

After all candidates gave their speeches, the senate moved into a separate room to deliberate and vote on the winner. After deliberation, second-year Emily Thomas was announced the winner with 10 votes.

The meeting then moved on to the special election for the president pro tempore position. CHASS Senator Miguel Ramirez and CNAS Senator Natalie Hernandez both ran for the position. Ramirez was the first to give his speech and answer questions from the senate. Ramirez stated that he thinks he is prepared and ready to meet the expectations and requirements of this position. He stated that he had the privilege to work closely with Juturu, from whom he believes he learned a lot from. In Juturu’s absence, Ramirez stated that he and the rest of the LRC have taken a step forward to cover the vacancy. He stated that he is not only passionate about the position but more than capable to fulfill the role. He said that he believes his actions over the past quarter speak for themselves.

Hernandez was then called into the Senate Chambers to give her speech. Hernandez stated that she listens to other students during her office hours about their grievances with UCR. She stated that as president pro tempore, she would be able to create the changes that they wish to see at UCR. She said that she hopes to form and lead an open-minded committee to achieve the changes they wish to see on UCR’s campus.

After another closed deliberation by the senate to discuss and vote on the winner, EVP Cortes announced Ramirez as the winner with a vote of 11-6-0.

In an interview with The Highlander, Ramirez stated, “I feel excited about the position! The last President Pro Tempore set the bar really high, so the expectations are high. However, I feel prepared for the duties and responsibilities that come with the position.” He added that the fact that his fellow senators voted for him means they trust his work ethic and are confident that he can be a good leader. “Of course the only way to show they made the right decision is by working hard and letting my actions speak for themselves,” stated Ramirez.

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