Onward State’s Non-Endorsement
For the past two years, Onward State has made an official endorsement for the UPUA Presidential election. Initially, this year was shaping up to be no different. We interviewed each ticket, and asked the tough questions about the candidates’ qualifications and records.
Monday night, at Onward State’s weekly editors meeting, we had a lengthy discussion about our organization’s plan to endorse a candidate. Unlike in previous years, there was no clear front runner or consensus. We left the meeting considering two of the three tickets, and we all decided that we needed one more debate before we picked our candidate.
After the debate last night, the choice was clear — we are not able to endorse any of the three candidates. The debate questions were not challenging, and provided little insight into the viability of the candidates. The consensus for Onward State was that there was not a clear choice that we could throw our unequivocal support behind.
It should be noted that this decision has nothing to do with the fact that two of our own writers are running. Evan Ponter and Ryan Kristobak are great friends of everyone involved with this decision, but we’ve made it clear from the start that our personal relationship with that ticket will have no implication in our coverage. We were planning on endorsing a ticket right up until the end, and this has nothing to do with a perceived conflict of interest.
There are aspects of each candidate that we admire. Courtney Lennartz’s executive experience and current administrative connections is something that is unmatched by any of the other tickets. Her running mate Katelyn Mullen also has connected to decision-makers in the university as the president of ARHS this past year. This team could hit the ground running when it comes to legislation. Plus, while her and former President Bard’s platform was hefty, they accomplished many goals they set out to do this year including the off-campus meal plan and the subsidized Princeton Review testing. However, approachability and ability to adapt and change from the failures of UPUA is something that is in question.
Maggie Quinn’s experience in standing behind T.J. during crisis and dealing with the media is something that will help her, should she be elected. We believe Maggie’s platform has some of the best feasible ideas, whether it be the student marketplace or the green recycling initiatives. She also has done the research and knows almost every number behind the Penn State budget and the state budget which will help her in talks with administration and governmental leaders. However, there are some big questions about the commitment of her VP Gina Feghali, who has said that Lion Ambassadors would be her “top priority” next year to that organization. There are also concerns about how well Maggie would work with the General Assembly.
Evan Ponter has the best mindset of all three candidates. His student-centric and down-to-earth approach is refreshing and he and vice presidential hopeful Ryan Kristobak have done the grunt work into learning as much as they can about budgetary concerns. However, his position as a UPUA outsider has proven to be more of a vice than a benefit, as his knowledge of how UPUA works seems to be the weakest of all three candidates. In addition, the ticket’s main goal to form a “progressive student union” lacks feasibility and forethought. The ticket thinks of themselves as “facilitators” or “liaisons” between the students and the administration, but right now, the student body needs a leader more than ever.
That being said, we’re going to sit this one out. We encourage you to vote at vote.psu.edu today for the candidate of your choice. All three candidates bring different skills and experiences to the table. Vote your heart today, Penn State.