The Winners And Losers Of Campaigning

Ricardo: Brian and I haven’t been collaborating too much recently but with less than two days left of voting, the majority of campaigning done, and (hopefully, given turnout last year) only about half the votes in we’d like to look at who’s gained and who’s lost positioning since the onset of the election.

First off, the presidential candidates. Jeremy McElroy has definitely met expectations while I’ve been fairly disappointed by Omar Chaaban. Granted he lost a little bit of time from the temporary disqualification but he hasn’t rallied the left wing anywhere near as much as I’d expected. Michael Moll is more popular than I expected but I think a lot of that is from the underdog vacuum developed by Chaaban.

Brian: Well, I’m really disappointed that Chaaban didn’t make it to the debates on Monday and Tuesday, especially the Monday night one in the CSI. (You know, I never did listen to the CITR one. I should do that.) I was really looking forward to him mixing it up. He says he  has good excuses, although I heard he missed the Tuesday one because he had a meeting with his professor. SURELY you can reschedule that!

But for the most part, I haven’t seen any campaigning from Chaaban at all, although I suppose he is doing it within the Resource Group and SPHR circles. There are a ton of very leftwing votes on this campus to pick up, but you have to be more vocal and visible than Chaaban has been.

Moll has actually done a bit worse than I was expecting, because I had seen him a few times before. His campaign has essentially consisted of saying “we need better communication”, and almost everyone has seen through the fact that he just doesn’t know enough about the position—especially when contrasted next to Jeremy. I don’t think anyone should run for President if they haven’t been on Council before. Run for a position that requires less knowledge about so many different issues.

Ricardo: Agreed, Moll has effectively demonstrated he knows nothing about anything. How about VP External? I don’t think there’s been many surprises between Mitch Wright and Katherine Tyson – they’re still neck-and-neck. Rory Breasail has definitely gotten his name out but I don’t feel he’s really challenged them regardless. Really all he’s done is produce a bunch of paper waste from his fliers. To be fair though, I didn’t expect much to begin with – he was always the third choice.

Brian: Well, Rory was never going to get much love from most people on Council and the hack community, because as Neal Yonson said on UBC Insiders, nobody wants to go back to a Tim Chu-style VP External, where the default position is combative and angry towards anyone wearing a suit. (Sorry, Rory, but you were the one who decided to go with the “Suits Suck” motto!) My position has long been that the way to get things done in Canada on tuition and student loans and everything else is not the relatively fun “let’s be radical and revolutionary and force change in the system” method, but the unglamorous, extremely hard work of learning how legislation and lawmaking works, taking firm negotiation stances, and building solid relationships with the key players in the Leg.

As for Mitch and Katherine, I have no clue how this is going to turn out. I think both have done a good job of campaigning, although I’ve noticed Katherine around campus more. The other day when I got off the bus, she was handing hot chocolate out to people and talking to everyone who passed by. That sort of groundwork can really pay off in the end.

Ricardo: Speaking of groundwork, Kathy Yan Li is my big winner in the VP Admin race. She’s definitely been the most visible candidate though she’s had to as both Mike Silley and Gordon Katic already had well-established support groups. Silley and Katic haven’t really done much, while Yan Li came in as a huge underdog but now I think she has an outside chance. She’s demonstrated that she knows the issues and what’s at stake just as well as Katic and Silley, while being a lot more exciting and personable, which is important when the position is all about engaging the student body. There’s little evidence from the campaign that Katic and Silley will engage anyone outside their support groups but it seems that a lot of people don’t think that matters too much.

Brian: I actually thought Gord Katic had the most opportunity here, because out of all the people that I’ll endearingly refer to as the crazy hippies, he seems most capable of attracting the non-hippie vote. Gord, Omar, and Rory are all funny and pleasant people to talk to, but Gord seems most capable of keeping the far-left politics out of his campaign. (Whether he wants to do that is another story.) But as with you, I haven’t seen much campaigning from either Gord or Mike, so I assume they are spending most of their time making sure their support groups vote.

As for Kathy Yan Li, well hell, she’s all over the place. I think it’s kind of hilarious that she’s received endorsements from you and Neal, the two hackiest endorsers of them all. That bodes badly for Gord and Mike—they haven’t done enough. Though VP Admin is a tough position to campaign for.

Ricardo: I don’t have much to say about VP Finance. Both Arash Ehtashami and Elin Tayyar have not really mis-stepped (besides the faults I’ve noted in their platforms already) but not really improved their stock.

VP Academic though has had much more interesting developments. Although Justin Yang has been running at full throttle as expected, both Jessica Wang and Matt Parsons have been able to make inroads. I’ve been especially impressed with Wang as she has articulated a coherent, intelligent platform when originally I would have found it hard to believe she would be so well-versed given her limited background. She hasn’t really bitten into Yang’s pole position I’d like her to come out as a strong second. Parsons on the other hand I think has done well because he has worked very hard to get the Greek vote which can be undermined by a strong, popular, and visible candidate like Yang. It was his best bet and he’s put the farm on it.

Brian: Disagree with you here. The first time I heard Wang speak, it was in the CiTR debate where she decided to interject a “we’re on unceded terrority” line into the middle of an entirely unrelated topic, as if the rest of us didn’t know that. I didn’t realize she was going to be one of those “the university administration is our enemy at all times” people. I agree that she’s done well in holding her ground during the debates—this has actually been the most substantive race of them all—but I wouldn’t say she did better than Parson did. I also haven’t noticed any of these candidates campaigning around campus, so I can’t say for sure whether Wang or Parson reached out to “regular” students, outside of their cliques.

But you know, I don’t want to be too negative toward Wang, or of any of the Resource Group people, actually, because I think it’s really important to have candidates with strongly opposing views. It’s just that I’m never going to support anyone who embodies the faux-revolutionary mindset, where they talk as if UBC students have it terrible and we have to take on these motherfuckers in suits to set things right. That’s just not the way it is, and it’s counterproductive toward achieving reasonable and tangible goals.

Ricardo: Last but certainly not least are the Board of Governors (BoG) and Senate races. Not to much of the unexpected in BoG except AJ Hajir Hajian’s poor showing though I think people who’d been following the his work in Senate aren’t too surprised. Luckily for him in regard to the Senate race, there’s a wealth of poor candidates for Senate like most years. None of the unknowns have been surprisingly bad though – lots of people run every year for Senate without too much understanding of the current issues or much of a platform besides “I am a student hence I inherently represent students.” Frankly, I’ve been impressed by Thomas Brennen as he doesn’t have much relevant background but is not incompetent and has a good issue as the only plank in his platform. I think more people need to run for Senate with the promise of having a single focus and being damn determined to implement it.

Brian: Yeah, I have to admit that I don’t know very much about the Senate race. I know Thomas a little bit and am not surprised that he’s done well. I’ve also had limited interaction with Ryan and Spencer, and both have come off well.

As for BoG, the race got much less interesting when Ackbar, Ben, and Mike dropped out, but at least now it’s really easy to decide who to vote for. My problems with SuperSexySass are documented, while AJ the Vandal’s name is faded out but still painted all over the campus grounds, and doesn’t look like it will disappear anytime soon. Sean and Sumedha will both be strong BoG reps.

Well, we better end this post before it goes on too long.

Remember folks, vote the Vanguard in VFM if you haven’t done so already!


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