Amidst the senatorial and presentational debates that took place last week, ASLMU hosted a smaller town hall meeting with all 23 students running for office this election cycle Wednesday night in St. Robert’s Auditorium.
The town hall featured all three presidential-vice presidential tickets and the 17 senatorial candidates answering a mixture of prepared questions and questions from the audience. The recent announcement of higher parking fees was a major topic of conversation, as were the needs for more transparency and the senatorial candidates’ lack of experience and knowledge about their job requirements.
Current Speaker of the senate and senior communication studies major Mary O’Laughlin was the first to reference the latter topic, noting that several of the candidates’ plans for changes if elected were already part of the ASLMU senate’s activities. Several candidates didn’t answer the question, while others, like sophomore accounting major Michael Curran, owned up to their lack of knowledge while pledging to do their research. After a few of the candidates’ responses, junior marketing major and presidential candidate Bryan Ruiz stepped in to defend them.
Curran was also one of three senatorial candidates asked if senators should be paid for their work, something several of the senatorial candidates weren’t even aware was part of their job description. While Curran argued they should be paid, fellow senatorial candidate and sophomore entrepreneurship major Colin O’Brien gave a more conditional answer.
“I think before we get paid, we should clear up the transparency issue,” O’Brien said, echoing several other candidates who brought up the need for more direct communication between ASLMU and the LMU student body. “Once we’ve done something that merits getting paid, we can.”
The event, which was attended by approximately 30 students, half of them somehow affiliated with ASLMU, was intended to give the candidates a way to talk more directly with the community. While candidates and current ASLMU officers alike lamented the limited attendance, the event marched on with audience members asking the candidates varied and sometimes pointed questions.
“I wish there had been more people in the audience,” current ASLMU president and senior English major Art Flores said after the event. “This was a good first showing for the candidates [though].”
“I think students are busy, but I think they are interested in ASLMU,” presidential candidate and junior political science and Spanish double major Emilio Garcia said. Garcia’s running mate, junior accounting major Laura Kramer, intended to participate via Skype from Spain, but technical issues led to Garcia representing both halves of their ticket.
Ruiz and running mate junior sociology major Vince Caserio make up one of the other presidential tickets; the third includes presidential hopeful Jennifer Mercado and vice-presidential candidate Erick Bozeman, both junior political science majors. Mercado spoke about the transparency issue after the debate had ended while simultaneously defending the senatorial candidates.
“A lot of people don’t know what ASLMU really does, and that’s a problem,” Mercado said. “[The senatorial candidates] are qualified … [though] it is unfortunate that they don’t quite know what the senate does. I’m sure they’ll go home tonight and study up.”
While most of the attendees were already members of ASLMU, as noted by incumbent senatorial candidate and freshman biology major Roy Dilekoglu, there were some attendees who had no relation to the organization or any of the candidates, including sophomore political science major Ted Guerrero.
“I didn’t go to the event last year, so I wanted to show up and support, as well as be informed,” Guerrero said of his decision to attend. “I thought it went well. I thought they conveyed their passions well.”
For the senatorial candidates, the town hall was their final public event before voting next Tuesday through Thursday. The presidential candidates also appeared during Thursday’s presidential debate in Lawton Plaza.
[CLARIFICATION: In a previous version of this article, it was stated that vice presidential candidate Laura Kramer was studying abroad in Spain. While she was in Spain at the time of the town hall, she is studying abroad in Florence, Italy.]