Impact day draws 50 campaigns

By Rochelle McConkie, News Editor

With only 33 days left until Election Day, more than 50 candidates from state races were abuzz on the Union Plaza on Wednesday, hoping to reach student voters and prove their merit as the candidate who will best represent the U.

“Impact Day represents candidates’ commitment to the U,” said Andrew Jensen, the Government Relations board director for the Associated Students of the University of Utah.

While college students nationwide have shown increased enthusiasm for the presidential races this year, Jensen stressed the importance of local races. As evidence, he pointed to the $10.5 million budget cut the Utah State Legislature recently set for the U, which will likely result in cut or scaled back programs.

“Students have to realize that local politics impact them directly,” Jensen said.

Impact Day is meant to increase student civic engagement, as well as give students a chance to find out what district they are in and meet the politicians they will have a chance to vote for Nov. 4. The U’s VoteProject group also registered 83 students to vote during the event, as part of its goal to register 1,000 additional voters before the Oct. 6 mail-in registration deadline.

House District 25 Republican candidate Garrett Clark, who graduated from the U in 2006 with a degree in political science, said his proximity to the U qualifies him for the job. Clark said he remembers working at Impact Day when he was campus relations director for ASUU in 2005.

“This is my district, my stomping ground8212;where I feel most comfortable,” Clark said.

Clark said if elected he would oppose tuition hikes that might eventually be caused by the budget cuts and promote the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative, a state program that provides funding for research at the U.

Clark’s opponent, Democratic incumbent Christine Johnson, said her experience on the higher education appropriations committee makes her a stronger voice for the university.

“I voted against the budget reductions in the special session,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to see it result in higher tuition, faculty loss or program cuts.”

Like Clark and Johnson, economic woes were on the minds of a number of students attending the event.

Aaron Vessel, a sophomore in business, expressed support for Sen. Barack Obama’s economic plan at a table sponsored by Students for Obama. Vessel said he is worried about entering the business world, because if the economy is slumping, there won’t be many jobs available when he graduates.

Justin Rowe, a sophomore in mass communication, agreed that Obama has a better plan. “He’s not just throwing money at everyone,” Rowe said.

The U College Democrats and College Republicans also had tables at the event.

For students such as Savonna Stender, a sophomore in physiology, Impact Day was a way to learn about the candidates and Utah politics.

“I just moved here from California,” Stender said. “I came to see what’s going on in Utah.”

Most tables were manned by students working on campaigns.

Stanley Lloyd, the ASUU community service director, tried to recruit students to vote for Democratic Rep. for District 2, Jim Matheson. Lloyd worked as an intern for Matheson in Washington, D.C., last summer and is now working on his re-election campaign.

“It makes a very significant difference for me. I know how he feels about things and I know how he runs his office…I know how he reacts to constituents,” Lloyd said. “It’s interesting to bring things full circle.”

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