A.S. Elections Endorsements – Vice President Finance

    If students vote this year on only one vice president position, they should make it finance and pick Unity’s Denis Shmidt. Saying that Shmidt is overly qualified for the job doesn’t even begin to describe what he could bring to next year’s council. Failing to elect Shmidt this year would not only waste his potential, it likely would also waste a lot of money that Shmidt knows how to scare up to make Associated Students’ resources stretch to their maximum potential.

    Next year, the A.S. Council will face huge cuts — up to $175,000 — because of declining enrollment. There has been a lot of fearful talk about services and student organization funding getting cut, of dipping into mandated reserves, of passing fee referenda and more. Though the budget will inevitably suffer, Shmidt is the only candidate with any ideas about how to compensate. He’s assumed the position of financial controller in the vice president finance’s office this year — a position that has not been filled in the past three years — and took it upon himself to start internally auditing Associated Students to find where money could be saved. Not surprisingly, he has found a lot, and wants to continue finding this extra money to reallocate it for better uses.

    Some of his ideas are so obvious that it’s amazing they haven’t already been implemented by past vice presidents finance. Setting out guidelines for the external office’s traveling expenses is a good example. Currently, according to Shmidt, any travel expenses reported are reimbursed, with no guidelines on what the maximum is that can be spent on a dinner, or so forth. Giving sensible guidelines like this, so that those who come to the A.S. Council for funds know approximately how much they should ask for and expect to get, will save the council untold amounts that can go toward more events, be given to more student organizations, and generally benefit campus life in more ways. It will also save student organizations the headache of last-minute planning, as Shmidt recognizes that currently, senators tend to act on whims throughout the quarter as funds dwindle.

    Kevin Hanson, running with Students First!, has balanced budgets for the Inter-Fraternity Council, but has a limited understanding of the intricacies of balancing the A.S. budget. He said he would lobby against funding “hate speech,” which shows a poor understanding of his job description. Hanson might have Greek votes on his side, and while it’s a good idea to get the Greeks more involved with Associated Students, that’s not of primary importance. Shmidt is drastically more qualified for the position.

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