As usual, Student Government Association debates left us drowning in clichés from all five candidates. Yet a clear theme rose above the waters: SGA has some cleaning up to do next year. Each of the candidates expressed some level of disdain with the way SGA communicates with the student body and the amount of participation in Student Congress.
Although all of the candidates showed experience and practical solutions, the Optimist Editorial Board believes Ty Kelley is the best candidate for president and Rachel Jones is the best candidate for vice president.
All five of the candidates talked about “unifying the campus” and “reaching minorities.” They have all received Instagram endorsements from a wide range of students from diverse ethnic backgrounds, student athletes and resident community leaders. We have no doubt it will be a close race that gets students to come out and vote.
The main thing that sets Jones and Kelley apart is their unity as a team and their balance of fun and deep solutions for the problems on campus. They have ideas that appeal to a cross-section of students -like an on-campus dog park, freshmen tailgating and providing intern housing in other cities. At the same time, they’re not afraid of deep topics like minority representation and LGBT conversations. Our campus needs both lighthearted upgrades and openness to controversial topics.
Kelley, the current chief communications officer for SGA, has taken on multiple leadership roles on campus. Serving as a student director for the Cabinet, Kelley successfully planned and executed ACU Paint Fest. The rest of his resume supports his capability to get the job done and serve in a mentorship capacity, including being a Wildcat Week student director and an RCL last year.
Julia Kennedy, a junior English major from Lubbock, also has strong experience, serving as vice president of the executive cabinet this year. Yet her goals were vague, and she focused more on mental health than on practical ways to represent a wide variety of students.
Although Adam Andrade, senior class president and a political science and management major from Fort Worth, has many years under his belt in SA, and is passionate about accountability within Congress, he doesn’t have a strong enough connection with the student body. So far, he is the only candidate not to have a social media campaign on Instagram, and as a fifth-year senior, he stands to be less connected to the needs of the student body.
Kelley and Jones showed a cohesive campaign in their social media, website and statement of platforms during the debate. This shows their ability to work well together. Meanwhile, Kennedy and Dayton just announced they would be running on the same ticket Wednesday, yet for the past few days, it has been unclear whether or not Kennedy and Dayton are running on the same ticket or just endorsing each other.
Jones also comes in ahead with the number of bills she wrote to help the campus this year. She passed two resolutions, one seeking to offer Smith Adams residents off-campus chapel exemptions and the other allowing two candidates to run on the same ticket for SGA executive cabinet, as well as one bill, allocating funds for a memorial for Celina Schuetz. This will help her in the role of vice president which involves managing Congress and helping representatives get bills passed.
Dayton was not a member of SGA this year although she served in TEDxACU and the American Enterprise Institute. She focused her platform on hot-button topics like sexual assault, mental health awareness and minority representation. However, the day-to-day role of the vice president is more about managing Congress and helping representatives write bills then it is about advocating for issues. Jones comes out ahead of Dayton in the area of managing Congress.
It’s a close race, and these candidates all have what it takes. SGA will have a strong leadership no matter what. But when it comes to providing solutions and showing a strong track record, Kelley and Jones will be the best choices for the campus.