Friday, January 18, 2008

How the President is voting - Jeff Friedrich's ballot

Jeff Friedrich is the current AMS president. These are his words. (Cartoon by JJ McCullough):

Ok… not to add fuel to the endorsement fire- but endorsing joke candidates? Maayan and Timmy, I think you two can step up and make a real choice here. And nothing against Erin, but being a joke candidate affords you a lot of advantages in a campaign. I think Erin is great, but I’ve never been that convinced that she actually likes or understands the AMS very well. Saying that an AMS run version of ACF is unfortunate because it won’t be student run is false, on the first hand; and a real candidate would present a plan to make it’s management involve more students- a perfectly reasonable platform point.

Also- elections aren’t fun. The type of people who should probably win them aren’t often the same type of people who thrive on the shameless self promotion necessary in campaigns. The one reflection I had about them is that they can be incredibly educational. I learned a lot about the AMS from my campaign- about student’s perceptions of it’s relevance and about how your ideas and vision resonate with membership.

So aside from congratulating all of the candidates for the bravery it takes to put your name forward, one message I’d have to all candidates is to hang in there, miss a few more days of class, and to learn what you can. And to the rest of you- cut them a bit of slack. It’s absolutely brutal to go home at the end of the day and read anonymous comments that are rude and unproductive.

President (this one is longer- I felt I owed it to Matt and Mike, both people I respect for their commitment to the AMS)

The most important job a President has is building a team that respects each other and their relationship with council. Finding shared priorities, particularly within staff and the exec team, and ideally with council, leverages the contacts, abilities, and momentum of many students and makes projects happen.

The reality is that the President portfolio is awkwardly defined- you get everything (internal, external, political, and management) and nothing. You’re not a CEO, and you can’t necessarily demand action from independently elected VP’s. You have a relationship with a council that is likely too large, has clumsy structure, grandiose debate, and whose members have to balance the political interests of their respective constituencies with their fiduciary obligations to everyone’s student union- the AMS.

That means the strength and effectiveness of your leadership is fundamentally dependant on how well you build consensus and use the governance structure of the AMS to build energy and commitment to projects. Just because it’s called “President” doesn’t necessarily mean there is an overly rigid hierarchy. I’m not sure everyone appreciates that.

[Endorsements behind the jump - Ed]
Quite frankly, I do not have confidence that Matt’s leadership style, ability to receive feedback, and judgment are well developed enough to lead an exec team or a large and complex organization like the AMS. If Matt had more ability as a team player, that would be demonstrated as support and endorsements from members of his exec team or from previous exec who have worked with him. Matt might be a future AMS President, but I don’t think he’s ready yet.

Matt’s ideas are also underdeveloped. It’s mostly status quo and the things he added as priorities don’t sit well with me. Liquor law lobbying might sound nice, but I doubt we’d gain much from ABLE membership, and most of the other ideas seem like they haven’t received feedback from people who might understand the practical challenges. It’s surprising to me that liquor would get a similar quantity of platform ink as discussions around student access, debt, and academic quality.

I have a hard time believing the message about empowering council. That’s a very hard thing to do- something we need to do, but nonetheless very difficult. It means more than working with the allies you have on council, which I think is how Matt has conceptualized the issue to himself.
Please appreciate how difficult it is for me to say that, and please don’t interpret my comments as being overly critical of Matt as a person.

Matt campaigns well. So far he has done this better than Mike. Which is disconcerting, because one of the reasons I support Mike is that I believe he has an ability to motivate student attention towards a referendum campaign for SUB that could be transformative for the organization, the U-Blvd project, and for the needs of a largely commuter based and disengaged student population. The groundwork is there but the route to referendum is challenging, and someone will need to build a very effective case to convince students. Mike needs to show through his campaigning that he is that person.

So pick it up Mike. Find a passion that is about ideas rather than “the next natural step” in student leadership. It’s there. Your ideas on athletics and involvement are important. I’ve worked with you on projects and know you’ve got an ability to motivate passion in others, and you’re organized in how you delegate tasks and manage projects. Mike is approachable and amenable to changing tack when decisions go astray. He has strong relationships with, and respect from, the university administration and the staff in our organization.

For those concerned readers of The Knoll and other members of the fledgling yet always inspired activist community at UBC (much love)- Mike has more political depth than you’re likely to give him credit for: I met Mike 4 years ago when he was helping organize Farmade, a cause I know he’s committed to. My guess is that he’ll have an approach with a VP External/Academic that is largely hands-off- meaning the political ambitions of the AMS will largely be guided by these portfolios in the coming year.
Mike Duncan is absolutely the person for the job.

The rest:

Alex Lougheed- VP Academic
Chris Diplock- VP Finance
Sarah Naiman- VP Admin (Sarah is exceptional)
Stef Ratjen- VP External

Senate - outstanding caliber of candidates this year…

I’m excited by, and you should vote for....

  • Blake Frederick (is qualified to be VP Academic)
  • Alfie Lee
  • Azim Wazeer (great focus on LPI- an issue which hasn’t gotten as much discussion as it should)

Can do the job, but I honestly don’t know enough about their platforms…

  • Aidha Shaikh
  • Colin Simkus

You should vote for one of these if you’re voting for them for VP Academic (it will help build a better relationship between the Caucus and AMS council)…

  • Alex Lougheed or Rob Maclean
I don’t know them, but their material looks professional and/or I’ve heard positive things about them…
  • Eileen Harder
  • Phillip Edgecumb

Board of Governors

Andrew Carne (good answers at the debate)
Tim Blair
Bijan is a close third for me.