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Campaign strategies differ

Claire Heininger | Thursday, February 5, 2004

After a week-long approval gap between the Charlie Ebersol-James Leito ticket and the other three student body presidential/vice presidential tickets, all four campaigns have stepped up their publicity efforts.

As the sprint through the debates and the endorsements begins, the tickets of Adam Istvan and Karla Bell, Ryan Craft and Steve Lynch and Mark Healy and Mike Healy said they were focused on earning recognition from student voters and were ready to gain ground.

“I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job compared to the time we got approved,” Mark Healy said. “We’ve got days of campaigning ahead of us – it won’t matter when we started.”

Istvan agreed that the extra week of exposure for Ebersol and Lieto did not put his and the other tickets significantly far behind.

“I don’t think the week that Charlie and James had will be that big of an advantage,” Istvan said. “I don’t think a huge game of catch-up is really needed.”

Craft said he hoped that voters’ choices would be based on more than a disparity in campaign promotions.

“I don’t think [the extra week] is a big deal,” Craft said. “We don’t have the big staff of the Ebersol ticket, but we’re confident that the students … will look at the issues and not the publicity machine.”

Ebersol, however, said that the period of solo campaigning was less important to his ticket than their overall previous student government experience.

“There is a perception of a head start, I just didn’t think it was a timed head start,” he said. “It was a head start in terms of experience.”

Ebersol and Lieto showcased their experience from the outset, forming a website titled the “Road to Progress” that emphasized the candidates’ familiarity with navigating the many parts of student government.

While the Web site and campaign posters have been crucial for getting the word out, Ebersol stressed the importance of interacting face-to-face with students before their votes are cast.

“The most important part is meeting potential voters and giving them the option to ask questions,” Ebersol said. “If I’m going to ask you to vote for me, I want to give you the opportunity to shake my hand, look me in the eye, and know that this is who you want to vote for.”

He reiterated his philosophy that the responsibility should fall to the candidates to seek out the student voters, not vice versa.

“I believe people shouldn’t have to go out and find the candidates, the candidates should go to the students,” Ebersol said.

In contrast, Craft said that he trusted students’ initiative to research the candidates on their own.

“Students will educate themselves on the various platforms, as long as they’re informed,” Craft said, adding that he and Lynch had been directing their efforts towards interviews and that they were in the process of displaying posters. “We’re quite a bit behind.”

Istvan and Bell have distributed two such posters so far, bearing the slogans “Real Leaders. Real Ideas. For Real Students.” and “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

“I think the student body wants to see a change. They want leaders who will do things for them, not to them,” Istvan explained. “That’s what the ‘It doesn’t have to be this way’ [poster] was about – we will be who you want us to be.”

He added that he and Bell planned to supplement their poster campaign by visiting dorms and “pounding the flesh” over the race’s final few days.

“We’ll definitely go around door to door as much as possible,” Istvan said. “A lot of people complain that student government has been too focused on itself, and we want to turn that around and focus on the students.”

Healy reported using similar strategies to seek out student input.

“We’ve visited dorms, talked to people – basically we’ve formed our platform one hundred percent on what people have to say,” Healy said. “Anything they’ve said, we’ve looked at and tried to implement it.”

The Healy-Healy ticket also has a website, which Mark Healy described as “pretty thorough on our platform.” Both Istvan and Craft said their campaigns had Web sites in development.