Pushing Forward

By Rochelle McConkie

Back in their high school days, Rick Pehrson and Clayton McDonald were archrivals on their high school debate teams and in Sterling Scholar competitions. Now, Pehrson and McDonald have teamed up to run for ASUU office.

With Pehrson’s student government experience and McDonald’s new perspectives, they said they will fix what needs to be changed in the Associated Students of the University of Utah, including building a student based platform and expanding the role of the senior class president.

The Forward Party said they have spent months meeting with students to find out their needs and concerns, creating a platform and then presenting it back to the students.

“It’s a fluid process? This platform isn’t about the Forward Party, it’s what the students need,” McDonald said.

In the Forward Party, Pehrson, a senior in political science, is running for president, with McDonald as vice president and Brittany Bell as senior class president.

When the Forward Party decided to run in October, all candidates were involved in different activities they said they didn’t want to give up. McDonald was serving as president of the Institute of Religion for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Pehrson was ASUU Chief of Staff.

McDonald said to run, he needed to be with someone he respected and was one of his best friends, saying Pehrson has the mind, innovation and experience to succeed. Both candidates said Bell is well qualified to take the senior class position to the next level.

Pehrson’s decision to run, he said, was “born out of frustration with the way things are in ASUU-with the way decisions are made and the decisions themselves.” He said he knows what needs to be changed in ASUU.

Because he has not been as involved in student government, McDonald, a junior in political science, said his motivations are different.

“Because Rick has experience, I balance it out with new ideas and different perspectives,” he said.

Bell said the first time Pehrson and McDonald approached her about running for senior class president, she said no.

“I didn’t believe the senior class really had a lot of responsibility and had bigger things in mind, but when they came back the second time, they had really great ideas-more vision and bigger plans for it.”

Pehrson said he hopes the role of senior class president can become more than a “cupcake job” and be used to advocate students’ opinions, as well as add perspective and balance to the presidency.

Over the years in ASUU, Pehrson has been on Freshman Council, the government relations board, attorney general, chief of staff and the academic chair of the executive cabinet.

He has also served two Hinckley Institute of Politics internships to Washington, D.C. to work for a non-governmental organization called Medical Care Development International and at the Utah state capitol for majority whip Steve Urquhart. Pehrson was also the vice president of LDSSA.

McDonald has been involved in the Bennion Center with the Utah Healing Arts Project and was on the academic affairs and student outreach committees. He was also Institute president and went on an internship to Washington, D.C. through the Hinckley Institute. He worked in the legal office of the Republican National Committee.

Both Pehrson and McDonald served missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-Pehrson served in Quito, Ecuador and McDonald served in Richmond, Virginia.

Bell, a junior in business management was a member of the Tri Delta sorority, was secretary to the ASUU campus relations board and associate director of the Crimson Nights board, was on the General Assembly for the School of Business and is a Residence Adviser in the Residence Halls. She is currently doing an internship with Valley Mental Health, a non-profit organization, in the resources department.

The party said they picked “Forward” for their name because of it’s double meaning-to be open and forward with the student body and push forward new projects, renovating the way things are going in ASUU.

“There are always good intentions during campaigns, but they don’t move forward to make it happen,” McDonald said. “We will promise things we can do and push forward.”

Kim Peterson

Forward Party presidential candidate Rick Pehrson talks Thursday about various campus locations where his party should campaign in the Union.

Kim Peterson

Brittany Bell, candidate for senior class president, and Clayton McDonald, vice-presidential candidate, laugh about a recent experience McDonald had while getting his haircut. The two just wrapped up a campaign meeting for their party, Forward, in the Union on Thursday.