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Debate introduces candidates to students

April 4, 2013

Student Senate President Bobbi O’Brien (left) moderates a debate between the three candidates vying for the position of Senate president.
Student Senate President Bobbi O’Brien (left) moderates a debate between the three candidates vying for the position of Senate president. Candidates Riley Haynes (middle) and Sam Tauchen (right) answer questions asked of them by O’Brien. Candidate Dominic Riel waits for his turn to answer the question while seated behind the podiums. The primary election begins at 8 a.m. on April 8, and ends at 12 p.m. on April 9. (Brianna Samson/Student Voice)

The three candidates running for UW-River Falls Student Senate president participated in a presidential debate on Monday, April 1, to gain votes for the primary election being held on April 8 and 9.

The debate was held at 7 p.m. in the Falcon’s Nest in the University Center following a meet and greet that was held at 6 p.m. where the UWRF community could speak with presidential candidates Sam Tauchen, Dominic Riel and Riley Haynes, along with other Senate candidates about their plans if they were to get elected into office.

“We had a great turnout, a lot of people came early and stayed through the debate,” said Elections Commissioner Hannah Carlson.

Carlson said she had never coordinated an event like this before and said it was a challenge but she enjoyed it. Figuring out how to get catering for the event, reservations, advertising and planning the questions that would be asked are just a few of the things she had to do to prepare.

“I did not give them [candidates] the questions in advance,” said Carlson.

Carlson explained that she created the questions by asking what the concerns are from her friends, other Senate members, current Senate President Bobbi O’Brien, and herself. She said the tuition questions that were asked were primarily ones that she was curious about because she feels that it is an important issue among students due to the current economy and other life events.

“I think they did a great job of formulating some questions that were really relevant to the position of president and kind of what we are going to be doing next year, and issues that are really relevant to the students and the school as a whole,” said Haynes.

President O’Brien moderated the debate and asked the candidates five questions. She first asked the candidates to explain what qualities they think they possess that will make them a good president.

Carlson turned it over to the audience shortly thereafter so that they could ask their questions.  Then each candidate was allowed one minute to explain why the UWRF community should vote for them.

“This campus has been a part of my life before I even knew it was part of my life,” said Tauchen. “My grandpa met my grandma here on this campus and he graduated with an ag. ed. degree, which I am very proud that I, too am going to be graduating with an ag. ed. degree,” Tauchen said.

He went on to explain that his uncles also attended UWRF, and he believes that looking into the future and present is what will help make campus successful.

Riel explained that although he does not have roots tied to UWRF, he has made a strong connection with campus by getting involved with Senate.

“My first year on Student Senate, I kind of just took that first year to really get informed and knowledgeable of what’s happening,” Riel said.

He described how he is chair of the Facilities and Fees Board as well as working with the chancellor and provost. Riel also wants to continue working on getting Senate to make informed decisions and getting rid of the disconnect between Senate and the students on campus.

Haynes said he became involved in two student organizations on his first day on campus and has really enjoyed getting involved. He explained that he lives on campus as well as works on campus.

“Being involved on Student Senate has given me opportunity to get further engaged in the actual process of how the campus works and I’ve really been inspired by this year’s Student Senate and what a great job we’ve done,” Haynes said.

All three candidates thought the debate went well and although they were not informed of the questions that would be asked ahead of time, they all said they remained honest and did their best at answering the questions that were asked.

The primary elections will be held from 8 a.m. on Monday, April 8, to 12 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9, when one of the three candidates will be eliminated from the campaign.

The three candidates all said that they are moving in full force with getting their names out to the public.

Tauchen said that his campaign strategy is “meeting with different organizations and individuals to understand what students want as well as getting our name out there and who we are.”

Tauchen encourages voters to look at his campaign website samtony.com which he and his running mate Tony Sumnicht have been working on since Thanksgiving.

Haynes will also have a website with his running mate and current vice president of Senate, Matthew Hobbs called: RileyandHobbs.com.

“We’ve been passing out bookmarks today (Monday, April 1) with our name and our information on there about the election,” Haynes said. “I think passing out bookmarks is a great campaign tool because it’s something people can use and it reminds them of us.”

Riel has a different tactic other than a website or chalking the sidewalks to get his name out to the student body.

“The biggest thing for my campaign is I really want to actually meet with students and see them face to face,” Riel said. “I want to make sure that the students that are voting and the students that vote for me can put a face with the name and when the ballot does come out that they really know who I am and it’s not just a name that they saw on the sidewalk.”

Overall, the three candidates and Carlson agree that the debate went well and they are all anxious to see what the outcome of this election will be.

“I think that they answered gracefully and honestly. That was important, I don’t think that anyone was up there fibbing about what they would like to do. They had good honest answers,” said Carlson.

All students will receive an email on Monday, April 8 with a link to follow for voting in the primary election. Students are allowed to vote only once.