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District 6 members help UWRF

December 3, 2009

UW-River Falls students are being encouraged to run for County Board positions by students Nikki Shonoiki and Ben Plunkett, both current District 6 County Board members themselves.

“It’s very important for the District 6 seat to be occupied by a student because the University is located within this district and most of the students live in this district,” Shonoiki said.

Shonoiki, who first ran for County Board last fall, said that it is also very important to have students on County Board because the previous District 6 supervisor had a negative view of the University, which caused issues like the Pierce County Reproductive Health Services being taken away or relocated to another town.

“It’s important to have someone advocating for the students who need those services,” she said.

Shonoiki first learned about the County Board position from Plunkett, another student already on County Board. She was already politically active at the time as a Student Senate director and she said that she thought the County Board position seemed like it would be similar to positions that she had already held. She said that she anticipated that it would be more time consuming then her Senate position, but it
wasn’t.

Plunkett, who has been on the District 6 County Board since April 2006, said that he first became interested in running for County Board after being involved with a group working on ending the waiting list the county had for home care for children. The waiting list was for care that allowed the kids to stay in their homes and was actually lower in overall cost than institutional care they otherwise needed, according to Plunkett. He said that it was also what the parents and their kids wanted and allowed families to stay together.

Shonoiki said that she used many different strategies to win a County Board seat, such as leafleting, canvassing, phone banking, participating in voter registration drives, advertising on facebook, creating posters and just general word of mouth.

“I recall canvassing and accidentally knocking on my opponents door. He opened the door, looked me up and down, and told me I better get going and stop wasting time on his doorstep because I have a lot
of work to do if I’m going to beat him,” Shonoiki said, “I was shocked at first and then I got even more determined to beat him.”

For other students that are interested in running for County Board, there are many benefits, but there are also many challenges with being a student and a board member, Shonoiki said.

“There have been some challenges with being a County Board supervisor and a college student, and one is time management,” she said. “Although County Board is a lot less time consuming than I thought since I probably only have three to four meetings in any given month, I still had to learn how to manage my classes, my other jobs and make sure that I knew what was going on in the county all at the same time.

What is next for her after County Board? Shonoiki said that her next step is helping whatever students that may be interested in running for County Board to take her position as she hopes to move on to work as an Electoral Action Trainer, and also plans to run for Student Senate president. Students that are interested in running for County Board must move fast, she said, because in order to run for County Board one has to file circulating papers which require them to collect 25 signatures of people who live in their district. The date to pick up an application and start collection signatures is December 1st and the date the papers are due, completed and filed is January 5th, according to the state elections Web site.

“Being a student, one can bring knowledge about our current needs and also what we can do for the county. In areas from economic development and jobs to reproductive health care student impact and are impacted by county government,” Plunkett said. “The University is a very important part of the county, and by working together we are able to make the most of what we have for everyone.”