Fresh-faced Gupta Tapped to Run Election

    In light of the upcoming special election, the A.S. Council has been forced to split the 2005-06 election budget between the traditional spring election and a special election, which will ultimately decide whether or not a majority of voting students believe the council erred in its ban of pornography on Student-Run Television.

    At the Jan. 11 A.S. Council meeting, John Muir College junior Puneet Gupta was appointed as special elections manager, a position created when the office of the elections manager was split to separate the two campaigns. Gupta’s term is set to expire one week after the special election takes place in late January, when the regular elections manager will take charge.

    Gupta will run the election with only $600 out of the $4,000 annual elections budget, according to A.S. President Christopher Sweeten. While Gupta plans on using “cost-effective” methods for publicity, he said that he will request more funding from the A.S. Council if needed.

    “The budget for this is going to be proportional to the need,” Sweeten said. “This is not going to be a full-out [election.]”

    Regarding the budget split, John Muir College Council Chair Neil Spears said he sees the two elections and their inherent costs as necessity.

    “We don’t really have a choice,” Spears said. “It was called for by the students. If it means we need to allocate some funds from the general unallocated, so be it.”

    Although he was warned by councilmembers at his approval hearing that it was going to be a trying task, Gupta said that he will be able to handle the responsibility.

    “Whatever happens, I think I can take it,” he said.

    The special elections manager position did not receive many applicants, with Gupta being the only eligible candidate to apply for the position.

    “There was one other person to apply, but it was a councilmember, so I had to withdraw their application,” Sweeten said.

    Nevertheless, the position entails a large amount of responsibility, according to Spears.

    While Gupta admits that his experience with elections is limited, he believes that his involvement with campus groups such as the Inter-College Residents’ Association will help him in his task.

    “The office of elections Manager is extremely demanding,” Spears said. “I have a great respect for anyone that has that [job]. A lot of people aren’t going to like the officer, and he or she needs all the help they can get.”

    Controversy over the election is still brewing, with John Muir College senior Daniel Watts publishing — with student activity fees — a newspaper accusing specific A.S. Council senators of misleading constituents in the events that led to the shutdown of SRTV and misappropriating student funds.

    “I published [‘The Truth About UCSD’] to give everyone else on campus a chance to know what’s going on,” Watts said. “Students can’t judge the issues unless they see them in context. This is a supplement to everything else already published in its own context.”

    Watts explicitly targeted Sixth College Senior Senator Matt Corrales in the publication, which alleged that the councilmember rigged “the wording of the [special election] ballot to make sure the A.S. Council would prevail.”

    Corrales, however, refutes the charges.

    “While every student has the right to know what’s going on with A.S., my opinion hadn’t been formulated yet,” he said. “I ultimately drafted the question for the special election, and even [Watts] agreed with the final ballot wording at the Nov. 30 meeting.”

    Revelle College Sophomore Senator Dan Florek, another target of Watts’ paper, denies that criticisms of the special election were based on personal motives, but rather a belief that he was acting on the will of the students who elected him.

    “Watts made play of my statement that the A.S. Council’s decisions were right for the student body,” he said. “I believe that our decisions are right for the students only if the students say so. My point, however, was to say that students need to be educated on both sides of the issue before they can make an informed vote. The fact is that most students have not yet heard the side of the issue that pornography should not be aired on STRV.”

    Although the front page of Watts’ publication states that the content is meant to be satirical, Watts claims that the majority of his allegations are based in truth.

    “It’s a tabloid, from the sensationalized headlines to the satirical photo captions,” Watts said. “Like tabloids, it’s based in fact, but it’s also satirical.”

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