The road to the 2014 UGBC election has been, at times, unconventional. At the Jan. 16 deadline only one team-Nanci Fiore-Chettiar and Chris Marchese, both A&S ’15-had filed for candidacy. The Elections Committee (EC) then reopened the deadline and two more teams joined the race: Lucas Levine and Vance Vergara, both A&S ’15; and Michael Moazampour and Robert Watt, both A&S ’16. Two weeks later, Moazampour and Watt decided to end their bid in favor of Fiore-Chettiar and Marchese.
Now, with only one day left until voting begins, the two remaining teams are mobilizing supporters and making a last-minute campaign blitz. The EC’s straw poll at the campaign kick-off event last Sunday showed a tight race between the pairs.
Matt Alonsozana, UGBC executive vice president and A&S ’14, has followed the campaign closely and thinks that the election will be close. Both teams could bring elements of change to the organization as it moves forward, he said. Both teams have developed platforms that they say will make the organization more responsive to student concerns, increase transparency, and work with other campus groups to advocate for policy initiatives.
Bringing change to UGBC, however, is a promise that many past candidates have made, and one that is difficult to deliver. Alonsozana described the organization as Byzantine-difficult to manage, and politically charged.
Fiore-Chettiar and Marchese would bring a style of energetic advocacy to the government, according to Alonsozana’s analysis of the team and their platform.
“I really think you would see a UGBC-from anyone’s perspective-that would be relatively more energetic, in terms of really advocating for hard positions,” he said.
They have both been involved with UGCB since they were freshmen, and have already established relationships with senators and University administrators. According to Alonsozana, a majority of SA senators support their team-however, some senators have worries about how the two will work together,
“You only need to look at their voting records to see that there’s something a little off when they say that there is going to be a new direction in UGBC when one [Marchese] has voted with [my] administration 100 percent of the time, and [Fiore-Chettiar] has been basically the leader of the opposition,” he said.
At the end of last semester, Fiore-Chettiar was strongly opposed to the process that led to the constitutional amendment that split the programming board from UGBC. She abstained from the vote. Marchese, who worked on Alonsozana’s campaign last year and is the second highest ranking member of the SA as the president pro tempore, supported the amendment, but also expressed concern about the process. Marchese and Alonsozana have recently clashed over a number of small edits that Alonsozana has proposed to the constitution.
On the other side of the race, Levine and Vergara hope to get elected as outsiders, who have little experience with the organization that they hope to lead. Alonsozana believes that they would bring a fresh perspective to an organization that many think needs to change.
“I think they would really dress down the organization,” he said. “Some people say that a possible defect is that they don’t know the UGBC culture. I mean, I think that’s jumping the gun and assuming that the culture is a good thing. You know, the culture might be a bad thing.”
Levine and Vergara have enlisted the help of two campaign managers who have intimate knowledge of the workings of UGBC-Mike Keefe, Alonsozana’s chief of staff in the SA and A&S ’16, and Alison Takahashi, a class senator and A&S ’16. Keefe has taken a leave of absence from his position in order to work on the campaign.
While Levine and Vergara are not as well-versed in UGBC politics as Fiore-Chettiar and Marchese, both have served in other leadership positions. Levine worked as an intern for Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Cal.) over the summer, and Vergara serves as the co-president of the BC consulting club.
Alonsozana said that because Levine and Vergara have no previous UGBC experience, they will have to work hard to establish relationships with University administrators and retain talent in the SA.
No matter who wins the election, Alonsozana believes the most critical issue UGBC must address is rebranding its image in the eyes of students and administrators.
“You can have a lot of great policy ideas, but if no one understands them and no one cares about them, then there’s no point in administrators listening to you,” he said. “If this next team can’t nail down the rebranding-and if we can’t do it this semester, either-UGBC will really be in a rut for a long time.”