Our View: Most unopposed SGA candidates prepared for leadership, but not all

Editorial Board

In this year’s SGA elections, five candidates are running unopposed for executive office: Polly Ricketts for executive vice president, Jonathan Hess for vice president of external affairs, Katrina Swarthout for executive secretary, Ben Leake for vice president of financial affairs and Addison Arnold for vice president of academic affairs. The Editorial Board endorses every candidate for their respective position except for Addison Arnold.

Polly Ricketts – Executive Vice President

We possess absolutely no reservations about endorsing Polly Ricketts for executive vice president. Her track record of success within the SGA as secretary for the First Year Council, associate executive vice president under Will Pylant and executive secretary is second to none. As executive secretary, Ricketts helped create “Say Hey” to promote outreach of SGA to students across campus and increased transparency through improvements in the SGA website. Her platform is focused on creating long-term sustainability in SGA initiatives, which is a refreshing change of pace from the usual one-and-done projects often undertook by the SGA. Whoever is elected president is already off to a good start, since they will have Ricketts as their second-in-command. We not only believe she will do great things next year, we expect them. We enthusiastically endorse Polly Ricketts for executive vice president.

Jonathan Hess – Vice President of External Affairs

Jonathan Hess is the next strongest candidate behind Ricketts, and he is only a sophomore. Jonathan is a Tuscaloosa native who grew up in the city, went to high school at Holy Spirit Catholic School, and is now at the University. He possesses immense knowledge about the city of Tuscaloosa, understands the evolving dynamics of the relationship between the University and the city and actively participates in various external engagements sponsored by the SGA. His lone flaw is his lofty idea to advocate for changing city codes to support Uber, but his willingness to even pursue such an objective speaks to his ambition and desire to represent the University in front of the city council. Nonetheless, Hess is a great candidate for the position of vice president of external affairs and he earns our endorsement.

Katrina Swarthout – Executive Secretary

Although Katrina Swarthout’s platform is not as innovative and thorough as other candidates, she understands the importance of communication and, subsequently, how transparency arises from proper and effective communication. Her plans to sustain “Say Hey”, improve the SGA website, and increase transparency within the SGA are easily doable. We hope she follows in Polly Rickett’s footsteps and develops additional programs to expand SGA’s outreach and awareness on campus. Still, we foresee no issues with her faithfully executing the duties of her office and therefore endorse her for executive secretary.

Ben Leake – Vice President of Financial Affairs

Ben Leake’s platform is full of ideas for changing the financial situation of the SGA, helping students in need acquire financial support through need-based scholarships, and increasing student organization access to Financial Affairs Committee funding. His idealism may face a harsh reality next year when he attempts to transform his platform into practice. We also pause at the fact that he has never served in FAC and will now be in charge of it. But where he lacks in experience, he comes back with ideas, enthusiasm and intelligence. We endorse him for vice president of financial affairs.

Addison Arnold

Addison Arnold did not earn our endorsement. The vice president of academic affairs is ultimately an advocate for changing the policies of colleges and the University as a whole to better support students in all their academic endeavors. Addison did not fully comprehend a number of academic problems on campus nor was she aware of how to best address the issues. For example, she did not have a strong answer when asked whether or not it was fair that a freshman in the Honors College would take priority in registration over a non-Honors senior entering their final semester. We also felt she lacked a discernible passion for her position that other candidates expressed. While we hope she can develop pragmatic solutions to academic problems on campus, we cannot endorse her presently because she is not the most suitable advocate for students.