On Tuesday, April 17, the members of Campus Democrats at UCSB officially endorsed Sophia Armen for Associated Students President, Nadim Houssain for External Vice President of Statewide Affairs, Betty Aynalem for External Vice President of Local Affairs, Guadalupe Ibarra for Internal Vice President and Mac Kennedy for On-Campus Senator.

Each candidate has shown a commitment to Democratic activism at UCSB and will represent the Democratic community as a whole while serving in office. We all know the importance of electing Democrats who will fight to protect higher education and equal rights for all to state and federal office, but we also need to elect candidates to Associated Students who will stand in solidarity with their fellow students, fight back against tuition hikes and work to improve our local university community.

Presidential candidate Sophia Armen has been active on campus since her first year, organizing around progressive causes and engaging students to join her in standing up for justice for all human beings. She has led countless rallies for students’ rights and protests against injustices. She has stood in solidarity with those who have been wronged, from the victims of the pepper spraying at UC Davis to Trayvon Martin to the students at UCSB who face discrimination each and every day. We as a university have been incredibly lucky to have Sophia Armen standing with us and fighting for us as a student leader and we will be even luckier to have Sophia leading the charge as our president.

Nadim Houssain, candidate for EVPSA, has consistently shown a strong work ethic and dedication to ensuring student involvement in the political process. He has worked with the nonpartisan Voter Registration Volunteer Coalition, which registers thousands of voters every year and will be tasked with leading UCSB’s voter registration drive for the 2012 elections. In order for us as students to have a voice in our community, we must register and vote en masse for candidates that will represent our interests. It will take the leadership of Nadim Houssain to continue our legacy of registering more voters than any other school in the nation and to ensure that the student voice is heard by our elected leaders.

Betty Aynalem, a third-year resident assistant and vice president of the Sociology Association, is a progressive student that will represent the needs of the UCSB community in the local affairs (EVPLA) office. She will maintain a strong working relationship with the elected officials of Santa Barbara County, working closely with Doreen Farr’s office on local projects in I.V. It is refreshing to see a candidate that is determined to build coalitions with other groups working on similar projects as the EVPLA, saving time, energy and money. During this time of deep budget cuts, this is the kind of thinking that we need in A.S. to ensure that UCSB continues to provide quality programs for all students while not wasting student fees.

While Guadalupe Ibarra and Mayra Segovia are both very strong and qualified candidates for Internal Vice President, the edge goes to Lupe because of her inspiring passion for political education. She sees the lack of knowledge that students have about Associated Students and will fix it by providing more information on the projects representatives are working on to the A.S. website. As Democrats, we believe in the right of constituents to easily see what their elected officials are working on. However, as our members have come and gone, none of them seem to know what their A.S. elected officials have done because both the social media and websites of A.S. officials have lacked updated information. We believe Lupe understands this and will bring a new era of transparency and accessibility to A.S.

Mac Kennedy has been an active member of Campus Democrats at UCSB and will bring a Democratic perspective to the Associated Students Senate. He understands that the role of a Senator is to go above and beyond the prescribed duties. Mac has been active with the EVPSA office, KCSB and the Daily Nexus in addition to Campus Democrats at UCSB. As a Senator, Mac will continue to be an effective link from the student body to the A.S. Senate.

Erik Anciaux is a third-year CCS physics major and president of Campus Democrats at UCSB.

Nicole Leopardo is a fourth-year political science major and community outreach director for Campus Democrats at UCSB.