Candidates for Associated Students president and external vice president of statewide affairs squared off in respective debates yesterday in preparation for next week’s election.

Approximately 40 students attended the debate in the Hub between EVPSA candidates Doug Wagoner (B.O.S.S.) and Edward-Michael Muña (DPP), which was followed by a debate among presidential candidates Bennett Duval (B.O.S.S.), Paul Monge-Rodriguez (DPP) and Josue Aparicio (OPP). Celina Ayala (OPP), who is running for reelection as EVPSA, was absent from the debate.

The A.S. Election Candidate Forums began last week, and conclude with the student advocate general debate Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. in the Hub.

Voting in the election opens April 19 at 8 a.m. on GOLD or at and ends April 22 at 4 p.m.

Presidential candidates discussed topics such as clarifications of party platforms and Floatopia, while EVPSA candidates focused on issues regarding safe spaces for minorities on campus and immigration reform.

According to Duval, rumors have been circulating about his new party’s stance.

“There have been allegations that the B.O.S.S. party will boss you around,” Duval said. “Actually, we stand for Bettering Our School Systems, and that is what we will do.”

Monge-Rodriguez — who is also running with a new party — said his party, and its use of the primary system, would improve A.S. as an organization.

“We’re the only political party that uses the democratic process,” Monge-Rodriguez said. “We had primaries in January and, as a party, we’re initiating changes that will make A.S. a more proactive group.”

In regards to Floatopia, the presidential hopefuls noted that students should be more involved in the future planning of the event.

“Students were shut out of the planning process,” Duval said. “Students like Floatopia, but environmental and safety concerns remain an issue, and students need to be a part of the planning.”

Aparicio said he was concerned about the county’s willingness to shut down beach access whenever they
deem necessary.

“The bigger issue is that the county is willing to shut down beaches without students’ consent,” Aparicio said.

Monge-Rodriguez said he felt local law enforcement disrespected students when beach access was denied.

“What we saw was a backlash from county officials,” Monge-Rodriguez said. “I felt it was disrespectful to students and delegitimized student voices. This was mismanagement on the county’s part.”

During the question-and-answer session, candidates were asked who they would vote for if forced to choose another candidate. Duval and Monge-Rodriguez said that they would vote for each other. Aparicio abstained from answering the question and said, instead, that he would vote for himself.

“Alright, I feel I wouldn’t choose either of these candidates,” Aparicio said. “I’m going to make 100 percent sure that I win the election. We need someone who is willing to work, and that is me. If that doesn’t happen, then A.S. will remain in disarray.”

During the EVPSA debate, Wagoner said he was interested in spreading what he dubbed political awareness. Muña agreed with Wagoner’s stance and also discussed his goal of collaborating with student groups to increase visibility of undocumented students’ rights.

All A.S. Candidate Forums are recorded and are available for streaming on the A.S. Web site.