The California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) community reached a pivotal moment in student government as many cast their votes to elect next year’s leaders of Associated Students (AS). AS advocates for and governs CSUMB attendees to empower the student body, and the AS elections allow candidates to strive to work in a government role while those voting have the opportunity to practice civic engagement.
From April 6 to April 9, votes were cast for several AS positions, and the elected are to be announced on April 12 at the Results Release Party which begins at 5 p.m. on Zoom. To fit in an online format, some election events functioned differently than they did during last year’s elections, but candidates have enjoyed the election process nonetheless.
Back in March, candidate speeches were heard on Zoom, where the student body was introduced to next year’s potential leaders. Following the speeches, candidates debated with one another on April 5, just before students began casting their votes.
All AS positions were unopposed this year, except for the two candidates who ran for AS president: Victoria Bartindale-Guffey and Cobey Davis. Although students seeking financial and external affairs positions within AS were not faced with a competitor, sharing their voice during the speech and debate events and being included on the ballot acted as essential functions of the election process.
David Ledesma currently holds the position of vice president of financial affairs and is running for a second term in the same position. He’s a second-year student majoring in global studies, and he ran for AS last year when noticing the organization’s impact on students through advocacy work.
“This theme (advocacy) is what truly drew me into the organization,” he said. “Through AS, a lot of advocacy is done on behalf of the best interests of students, my involvement in that advocacy is what drives me in AS.”
Ledesma said campaigning was challenging for him because when doing so he had to talk in front of large groups, which made him nervous during election events. Despite his nerves, Ledesma had a great time during candidate debates. He said there was a high attendee turnout for the event and enjoyed engaging with the voting student body. Seeing other candidates campaigning was another highlight of the election process.
“It is refreshing to see a number of candidates who will be new to the organization and offer fresh ideas and perspectives,” Ledesma said.
Ledesma will focus on improving the efficiency of student government by streamlining funding requests and budgeting activities when stepping into his second term.
David Castillon-Mendoza is a humanities and communications major who is campaigning for the position of vice president of external affairs. He became interested in leadership after participating in Hartnell College’s branch of AS. He said representing students there “gave [him] the opportunity to learn how to lead a student body on a statewide level.”
Castillon-Mendoza also enjoyed the candidate debates, saying it was the highlight of the election process for him. When placed into the role of vice president of external affairs, he will strive to make CSUMB a name that is “recognized statewide,” and hopes to offer students a space to practice civic leadership.
“Our students need a voice. They need to have an organization they can come to for their grievances and concerns,” Castillon-Mendoza said. “That will advocate for them on their behalf and make sure that the money they are spending is being allocated in a way that they see fit.”
As Bartindale-Guffey and Davis were the only two candidates with opponents, their campaigning posed different challenges and the two were the main focus of candidate debates. While Davis said the debate was his favorite election event, Bartindale-Guffey enjoyed candidate speeches the most.
Davis is a third-year mathematics major and has been interested in AS since enrolling in CSUMB in 2018. He currently acts as AS student-at-large for the Internal Affairs Board and for the 2021-2022 academic year and feels his passion to better CSUMB will benefit students if chosen to be AS president.
Davis said taking the step forward to run for AS president helped him get out of his shell, where he became more active with the student body and on social media when campaigning. He honors AS for offering students a place to use their voice. If selected to run as president, he wants to improve transparency between faculty and students and get more students involved in AS.
“I was someone that liked to do work that was behind the scenes and ensuring that the organizations I took part in were ‘staying afloat’ and being successful,” said Davis. “Now going into my fourth year at CSUMB, I know that the long days and nights and some vacations [I chose to work through instead of using to relax] were all for preparation to accomplish bigger and better things for all the students, staff and faculty here at CSUMB.”
Current Sports Club Council President Bartindale-Guffey is a third-year marine science major, and she is ready to branch out to the entire CSUMB community if becoming AS president. She decided to campaign when realizing her leadership in Sports Club Council had an impact on students and hopes to “share the passion and diversity we have on our campus with other campuses.”
Bartindale-Guffey found it challenging to connect deeply with students in an online environment, knowing all too well that several students are challenged by Zoom fatigue and the effects of the pandemic. Nevertheless, she wants to provide students with a place to improve their campus life and academic careers.
“I will strive to achieve creating better lines of communication between areas and organizations on campus seeing how this year has gone and where areas to improve upon are,” Bartindale-Guffey said. “Another goal is to represent underrepresented students on campus by creating new resources or expanding upon those that already are on campus for them to turn to when in need.”
Join the AS Results Release party on April 12 to be introduced to next year’s AS president and celebrate the new beginnings for all 2021 to 2022 AS leaders. Despite facing the challenges of online learning, the AS elections still provide students with a safe space to grow and learn as civic leaders and continues to make space for student voices.