ASUU chief of staff resigns

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ASUU Chief of Staff Rick Pehrson resigned Thursday after rumors that he intends to run for student body president began circulating.

Alicia Taase, current attorney general in the Associated Students of the University of Utah, will fill the vacant position.

Pehrson said he made the decision to step down because he is considering running for president in ASUU elections this spring. He would not say for certain if he plans to run.

“It just seems like (this) is the right time for me to exit,” Pehrson said.

Student Body President Jake Kirkham said Pehrson had indicated to him he intended to run for office, though he “wasn’t 100 percent sure.”

“He and I both felt that it was in the best interest of ASUU for him to leave now for obvious reasons,” Kirkham said.

Kirkham said having Pehrson work in the position any longer would have been a conflict of interest. He said the chief of staff advises the presidency on election policy and helps appoint the elections registrar and elections committee members.

“You can’t have a chief of staff who’s planning on running advising the presidency on who (the elections registrar is) going to be,” Kirkham said.

Pehrson said he had no intentions to run for office when he applied to be chief of staff last April and was not considering the idea until recently.

While he is “disappointed” to see Pehrson go, Kirkham said he is not upset over his resignation.

“I know that his intentions when taking the position we’re not to run-he wasn’t using it as a step ladder,” he said. “I understand that opportunities come up, and I wish him the best.”

Kirkham said several other members of the ASUU Executive Cabinet are considering running for president next year.

Cameron Beech, Kirkham’s executive assistant and spokesman, told The Daily Utah Chronicle on Thursday he is vying for office but will not resign from his position in ASUU until the end of the semester.

Kirkham said other members of the cabinet do not present the same conflict as Pehrson because they do not participate in election policy decisions.

“We rely on our directors to further our goals?but they’re not making decisions on appointments or things like that,” Kirkham said.

Pehrson will not have to pay back the 12 tuition credit hours the U granted him for working in the position.

“The amount of hours and what Rick has done for this office is worth the tuition credit hours,” Kirkham said.

Although being appointed chief of staff almost halfway through the semester has its disadvantages, Taase said she thinks her involvement in the cabinet as attorney general will make the transition go more smoothly.

“I already have relationships with the directors,” Taase said.

Pehrson said he thinks Taase is more than qualified as his replacement.

“Alicia is one of the most qualified people on campus to do anything (in ASUU), especially chief of staff,” he said.

Alicia Taase

Rick Pehrson