Tis the season to be political as voters file into the ballot box and candidates make their last minute pleas. The scene was no different last Wednesday on the USF campus as students attended a Town Hall Meeting where candidates running for supervisor of District One responded to student questions and concerns and discussed why they should be elected.
The USF Politics Society sponsored the event, which was comprised of seven out of the nine candidates, Jason Jungreis, Brian J. Larkin, Sue Lee, Eric Mar, Sherman D’Silva, Alicia Wang, and Nicholas Belloni. The candidate who is elected for District One supervisor of the Richmond district will serve as the link between our neighborhood’s voice and the city’s planning.
President of the Politics Society, Megan Hanley, began organizing the event at the beginning of the month. “I wanted students to see how they can be a part of politics, and how they can control politics- how money is spent, where money is spent, and that ultimately the people making these decisions are just like you and me,” said Hanley.
Sophomore Vivian Geiseler, who has yet to declare a major, left the discussion with a better understanding of whom she wants to vote for. “Having a face to face gives a whole other dimension, rather then their informational pamphlets,” she said.
Assistant professor of politics Corey Cook moderated the discussion, which ran just over an hour in length. Vice President for University Life, Margaret Higgins was also in attendance to show her support. “We live, we learn, we work in District One,” said Higgins. The panelists were equally grateful for the political platform, which was mirrored by candidate Sue Lee who said, “I’m thrilled that you are here tonight, because hopefully it will inspire you to get involved in public service.”
Lee, and the other candidates, called themselves friends. “Our common goals definitely outweigh our differences,” said candidate Brian Larkin. Larkin later evoked laughs out of the audience after stating he wouldn’t be such a stranger to the USF campus now that he knows where the place is. The mood turned serious however, when the issues of the new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, which would streamline the 38 Geary bus line, and the city’s budget problem were discussed. Like everywhere else in the country, San Francisco is feeling the effects of the nation’s downward spiraling economy. For the rest of this year and 2009, the city will experience a shortfall of $338 million, which is a result of decreases in state budget cuts and an increase in city operating costs.
To bridge the budget gap candidates explained the problem of redundant spending and the need to either reduce city cost increases or increase revenues.
Questions for the candidates were mainly concerned with the safety of students crossing between Lone Mountain and Main campus as well as having the buses that run around campus become more frequent and offer night services. The candidates skirted around these questions and no direct answer was given, but they did acknowledge the need for reliable, faster transit service. The panelists were put on the spot when Hanley asked if they would offer office hours on campus, internships, and take part in forums and discussions like this in the future. The candidates were genuinely receptive to the idea as Nicholas Belloni said, “Free labor…I love it!”
Ultimately, the candidates left with a better understanding of the issues concerning USF students and students left with a better idea of whom they want to vote for. “Now that I’ve been here, I have my top candidates picked out,” said graduate student Steve Gotfredson.