In front of yet another small audience, the three candidates for Associated Students president debated such topics as the party system, fiscal accountability and the need for A.S. experience.

The three candidates – Stephanie Brower, Tuyen Nguyen and Darren Reid Frawley – answered questions at the 40-minute debate yesterday at noon in the MultiCultural Center Theater before a crowd of about 20 people, composed mostly of students and staff involved with A.S.

During the debate, not every candidate was given the opportunity to tackle each question. The format allowed for one candidate to offer a two-minute response to a question and the candidate seated beside them to present a one-minute response, followed by the original candidate’s counter-rebuttal.

Concerning the need for past experience within A.S., Students’ Party candidate Nguyen said a good president should come from within the organization. Nguyen served as a Legislative Council member a year ago.

“Without experience, you play catch up instead of working on issues that concern students,” Nguyen, a third-year Asian American studies major said. “We need people who have experience to move it forward. We can’t really go back to learn the organization and leave it stagnate.”

However, Brower, the Open People’s Party candidate, said involvement in A.S. is not crucial to be president, but serving in an executive office – such as her current position as the Residence Hall Association president – is the most important factor.

“What the president does is exactly what I do every day – advocate for students to the administration,” Brower, a second-year business economics major, said. “Executive experience is absolutely necessary.”

Nguyen and Frawley, a fourth-year geography major running as an independent, faced a question of how to ensure fiscal responsibility with A.S. funds.

Nguyen said she wants to connect students to currently available resources and increase visibility through such avenues as the new A.S. periodical, The Bottom Line.

Frawley said he feels money is currently being spent without considering the entire student body. He said he would instead focus on what he called “community events,” such as concerts and wider Internet access for students, as well as free weekly movies.

“There is a need to allocate this money where it represents and affects the entire student body,” Frawley said. “Certain issues and agendas have been directed to a select minority of the student population.”

Several questions were aimed at Brower and Nguyen regarding party politics. Both candidates stressed the diversity of their party’s slates, as well as their hope to work together after the election. In terms of the differences between the parties, Brower said OPP’s main goal is to focus on the student body and UCSB community, rather than external issues.

“It’s important not to lose sight of the students who are here and on whose back Associated Students is funded,” Brower said. “We need to return that money and trust back to them – the goal of Associated Students and OPP is to bring everything back to the students.”

Nguyen parried allegations that SP is overly focused on such external affairs as lobbying the legislature to lower tuition, and emphasized the party’s commitment to issues that directly affected UCSB students.

“Folks continue to focus on Students’ Party and the local issues we work on,” Nguyen said. “Various people on the slate work on internal issues.”

The only question presented to all candidates was whom they would elect if they could not vote for themselves. Both Frawley and Brower said they would choose Nguyen, and Nguyen selected Brower.

The candidates’ answers to additional questions can be found online on the A.S. website