ULSU elections enlightening
Flames vs. Oilers. Harper vs. Dion. Competition between rivals provides free advertising and captures public attention, both of which are valuable assets when in want of a larger fan base or having polls tipped in your favour.
So what do you do when no competition exists?
With three of four University of Lethbridge Students’ Union (ULSU) executive positions having just a single candidate in the spring elections, the 2009-2010 nominees faced the challenge of single-handedly garnering student interest, producing stimulating political debate, and showing they are competent and can be held accountable.
“The uncontested candidates had to work even harder in their campaigning,” says Adam Vossepoel, ULSU president. “They had to prove that they deserved the position more than anyone else and were, in fact, the best candidate for the job.”
Jeremy Girard, the single presidential candidate, agrees.
“To run against somebody else would have been easier; instead I was basically up against every single other person in this school and I needed to show people I was the best candidate for the position,” says Girard, a fourth-year neuroscience major.
Proving worthy of the position isn’t the only issue that arises when a candidate runs uncontested; to be viewed as credible and capable is difficult to attain without a rival posing a test.
“It’s more challenging to campaign against someone, but it’s much more difficult to be seen as legitimate when you’re campaigning alone,” says Alex Masse, the single vice-president academic candidate.
Masse, a fourth-year political science major, planned to prove his legitimacy through the election’s town hall speeches, executive council debates and the CKXU radio debate.
For Allan Hall, fifth-year accounting student and vice-president administration candidate, running uncontested didn’t change his objective of ensuring student support.
“The best thing I feel that I could do was just talk to students,” says Hall. “I think that it was really important that all the candidates, even if they didn’t have any competition, made an effort to engage students.”
The position of vice-president internal was the only one sought after by more than one student; fourth-year psychology major Matt Kalynchuk and third-year philosophy student Cole Lehto both vie for the title.
“Cole and I had to use campaigning to differentiate ourselves from one another and help people choose a candidate based on who they believed was right for the job,” says Kalynchuk.
“Running against someone means you must campaign in order to win and the competition is motivating,” says Lehto, who was pleased to have a competitor. “Running against no one means you must draw your motivation to campaign from a feeling of duty to do so, which is difficult.”
Whether the ‘battle of Alberta’ or the aspiration to hold an important political role, the challenge of garnering interest and being regarded as worthy, at times with no reference point, is difficult to achieve. If willingness to work hard is any indication of success in this area, it appears the ULSU can rest assured it will be in worthy hands for 2009-2010.