Analysis: A closer look at this year’s SGA presidential candidates
Passion. Experience. Charisma. Each candidate brings a powerful quality to the Student Government Association presidential race. The elected president will act as a liaison between students and the administration and have access to weekly meetings with President Renu Khator. Here’s an analysis of each candidate’s strength and weaknesses:
Elisha Diaz – The “We” Party II
“I’m extremely serious about (being SGA president). If you hurt my family, which are the students, I’m not going to be happy.”
— Diaz, on whether or not he will fight for what he believes in
Background: At the SGA presidential debate on Thursday, the computer information systems sophomore said he is poor and has racked up about $15,000 in debt in the past two years, partly because of living on campus for the “college experience.” He said he is an advocate for low-income students.
Strengths: Out of the three candidates, Diaz is perhaps the most personable. Referring to most people he meets as his friends, his charismatic attitude, friendly demeanor and student-first attitude may be the breath of fresh air SGA needs.
Weaknesses: His charming personality may be his downfall. When asked about the other candidate’s weaknesses, Diaz said that he didn’t like confrontation, calling the other candidates “flawless.”
Sam Perez – Independent
“The key goal of the administration is, and should be, the students. That should be the first goal.”
– Perez on SGA’s role at UH
Background: An advocate for the non-traditional student, political science senior Perez transferred to UH from Lone Star College and had the opportunity to intern on Capitol Hill for Congressman Marc Veasey.
Strengths: Perez’s experience on the Hill may allow him bring a real-world view to UH. His passion may also be his saving grace, since his top priorities are problems students frequently complain about: parking, campus life and advising.
Weaknesses: His inexperience with SGA and the lack of name recognition may keep many students from hearing about him or his goals. His apparent tepidness with public speaking also doesn’t help his chances at getting votes.
Shaun Smith – REDvolution
“What I did in the army is (take) care of soldiers…what I’d love to do here is take care of students.”
– Smith on why he would make a good SGA president
Background: Civil engineering junior Smith is a U.S. Army Combat veteran. He applied and was accepted to UH while still stationed in Afghanistan, starting classes the day after he finished his service with the military.
Strengths: Smith is the only presidential candidate with SGA experience. As Speaker of the Senate, he was elected to lead the legislative branch and presides over all SGA meetings, so he knows well how to communicate with senators.
Weaknesses: Running under the REDvolution party may hurt his credibility. Current SGA President and fellow REDvolution member Charles Haston has been butting heads with the administration since October. Smith emphasized during the debate that his administration will “not be the same in substance.”