By Vivian Ramirez
Five of the 10 candidates running for Associated Student Union board positions gave speeches and answered questions at the spring election forum in the G5 building on Monday.
At the forum, candidates were available for questions to students and to campaign for votes.
Although half of the candidates are running unopposed, they still have to give statements and explain why they are the best possible choice for that office.
The forum was organized at the last minute last Wednesday, and ASU did not have enough time to announce the forum in a timely manner.
About 25 people attended the forum, most of which were ASU members.
Current ASU Chief Justice James Garcia is running for re-election and spoke of the strengths and weaknesses of his term.
Garcia told the students about his organization behind the ASU laptop giveaway and emphasized the need to improve communication between departments, professors and students.
He admits his biggest mistake during his current term is the ineffective balance of his time.
Garcia plans to work on this issue if re-elected. He is the only candidate running for the position of Chief Justice.
Vice presidential candidate Shakira Eguez also gave a statement.
Chief Delegate candidate Marisol Elizarraras, Historian candidate Jenedier Garanche and Treasurer candidate Alma Robles were not at the forum.
The Chief Justice candidates Amber Barrero and Ahmed Mohsin were also absent.
They are the only candidates running for their positions.
Most of the questions went to two of the five presidential candidates present at the forum–Hassan Medina and Jorge Hidalgo.
The other three candidates are Aaron Higareda, Monica Abita and Jeffrey Can.
“I walk as I talk. I lead through experience, not through saying,” said Hidalgo. “I have dreams and aspirations too. You want someone to represent you? I’ve lived in East Los Angeles my entire life.”
Hidalgo is the current president of the ELAC Students for Political Awareness and believes that his experience as president has prepared him to lead ASU.
“I believe ASU should be run as a business for the students,” said Medina.
He is currently ASU Commissioner of Theater Arts and works as a tutor on campus.
“I see ASU as a long-term home for a lot of people.
“ASU should be the friend on your shoulder giving you a hand when you need it,” said Medina.
If elected, Medina plans to enhance the book loan program and to expand the ASU budget.
He will use the funds to hire a full-time secretary that will work in the ASU office.
Medina also plans to ease access for students who seek tutoring for their class subjects.
There is currently a two-week waiting period for students who seek tutoring.
Current ASU Vice President Robert Cancio asked the presidential candidates how they planned to raise student turnout in events like the spring forum.
Medina said he plans to do this by communicating to students the importance of being active.
Hidalgo said he believes he will seek out special interest groups and appeal to their needs in order to get them to participate.
At the time that questions were open to everyone, Sandy Serrano asked the presidential candidates why they sought a position that was tainted with impeachments and criticism.
Hidalgo responded by saying he considers ASU to be a family, that despite disagreements, they have to band together.
Medina said it was most important to keep one’s integrity and that criticism was inevitable in positions of authority.
ELAC student David Moreno asked Medina about his involvement in the Radio Club in 2000 and the allegations brought against him of embezzling money.
Medina was president of the Radio Club in 2000, at which time he was accused of misuse of funds by other Radio Club members.
According to ASU Historian Leon Cruz, ASU launched an investigation that cleared Medina of any allegations.
“This was 10 years ago. People grow up. This has nothing to do with my candidacy,” said Medina.
Sandy Serrano also defended Medina, stating that there was no evidence to accuse him of any wrongdoing.
“I’m bringing this up as a concerned student,” said Moreno. “I have no political aspirations. I just want to know who is running for ASU President.”
Moreno graduated from ELAC with an Associate Degree in Art and received his Bachelor’s Degree from Cal State University, Los Angeles in art education.
Polls are open today and tomorrow for ASU elections.