Six executive candidates running unopposed in election

Justin Heck

The SGA elections for the 2013-2014 school year will take place on Tuesday, March 12. Seven executive positions are open for election, though six of these positions have candidates running unopposed. The only position with opposing candidates is executive secretary.

Jimmy Taylor, the current SGA vice president of external affairs, is running for SGA president.

As the sole candidate for SGA President, Taylor has been using his campaign to build relationships with student groups on campus.

“I want them to know that I’m not just there to campaign. I want them to know who I am,” Taylor said. “I want them to know that I’m the best candidate even though there is not another candidate. I want them to know that I am the best person for the job, which I truly believe.”

Taylor said he wants to focus on the campus, the city and the Tuscaloosa community and has plans to help resolve conflicts in the historic district between students and non-students.

“Harvey Walker, a former SGA president, did a lot of work with the city. He started a program in which non-students and students would meet once a month to talk about how they could live more harmoniously,” Taylor said. “It was a great initiative. We’re going to work to bring that back.”

Some of Taylor’s past accomplishments as vice president of external affairs include creating the Strip Safety Committee, which has been communicating with the city in an effort to improve student safety by connecting the Strip and downtown Tuscaloosa with better lighting and more businesses.

Taylor said engaging the student population after the election is an important goal.

“Utilizing students is our greatest resource. We need to expand SGA programs like Campus Connect,” Taylor said. “We don’t want to fall off the face of the earth once we get elected.”

Will Pylant, current SGA vice president of student affairs, is running for the position of executive vice president.

Pylant has worked on multiple programs within SGA including Ride with the Tide, Arts Stroll and UA Spirit Points. He said his focus for next year is to improve the Rage concert, expand Ride with the Tide, and work toward a solution for the smoking ban issue that represents the opinion of the student body.

“I think we should wake up every day and ask what students need,” Pylant said. “It’s all about listening to the students.”

Allison Montgomery is running for vice president of academic affairs. She is currently serving as the SGA assistant chief of staff and is a member of the Academic Honor Council and has been involved in the Emerging Scholars Undergraduate Research Program.

Montgomery said she wants to help improve advising, registration and student awareness of scholarship opportunities.

“The university has so many opportunities for scholarships and study abroad funding that are not fully taken advantage of,” Montgomery said. “I would like to make students more aware of the resources that are available.”

Hamilton Bloom, current chair of the student affairs committee in the SGA senate, is running for vice president for student affairs.

Bloom said he would focus on accountability, greater outreach to student organizations and a tough examination of the Student Affairs Office to improve its efficiency.

“I’m going to specifically reach out to student organizations and find out what they need and then look for solutions,” Bloom said. “We’re going to be proactive, go to the groups and solve problems like that.”

Parker Graham is running for vice president for external affairs. He is currently serving as a senator for the college of engineering and is the secretary of the Senate.

Graham said that he wants to focus on honesty, accessibility and transparency in SGA.

“What you see is what you get,” Graham said. “You just ask and I’ll give you the answer.”

Graham is currently planning UAid, a program in conjunction with SGA Sunday Service Initiative to provide tornado relief to Hattiesburg, Miss. UAid is set to begin April 7.

Chris Willis is running for vice president of financial affairs.

Willis said his main goals will be raising more money for student scholarships, increasing the amount of money given to student organizations through the Financial Affairs Committee and improving the transparency of the SGA budget.

“I want to make sure we continue the need-based scholarship program. We don’t want students to have to decide between rent and books for class,” Willis said. “We want to make sure they can have the best education possible.”

Emily Passwaters is one of the two candidates running for executive secretary. She served on First Year Council and is currently a senator.

Passwaters said she wants to focus on improving communication between the three branches of SGA, creating a better sense of community between the city of Tuscaloosa and the University, and developing the relationship between SGA and the student body.

“I think that students have lost faith in student government,” Passwaters said. “We’re not on another level. We’re still students with classes and jobs. We want to be at events to show students that we are interested in what they’re doing.”

Mary Wills is also running for executive secretary. She is currently an associate justice on the Judicial Board of Education and previously served on First Year Council.

Wills said her main goals are access, information and transparency.

“During my campaign, one of my goals was to contact the leader of every registered organization on campus,” Wills said. “Some followed up, some didn’t. But I wanted to start the conversations. Relationships are the foundation for any functional change.”

Students can vote for all executive SGA offices and senate positions on their myBama from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Tuesday.