A small number of University Park Undergraduate Association candidates were left talking among themselves Wednesday, as the first Meet the Candidates session of the election season saw a low and slow turnout.
Justin Laskowski, UPUA deputy commissioner of events, said UPUA traditionally holds two Meet the Candidates sessions every elections season. At 11 a.m. Wednesday, chairs were pushed to one side on the first floor of the HUB-Robeson Center. Long tables were then put in place where candidates could stand and display campaign items, Laskowski (senior-philosophy) said.
But, by around 2:30 p.m. — about 30 minutes until the session was to end — candidates had moved away from the tables and instead formed a group by the entrance of the HUB. Laskowski said the number of students stopping by the tables was slow in the morning, then picked up around noon, and slowed down again in the afternoon.
Despite the slow turnout, which Laskowski thought was due to spring break, he said it was about what he expected.
“Spring break was so close to election season, so it was hard to market and publicize [Meet the Candidates], so we are hoping next week there will be a bigger turnout,” Laskowski said.
The next session will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 20.
Laskowski said about 17 candidates arrived today to the event, and all candidates running in the 2013 UPUA elections are required to serve two hour shifts at one of the two sessions.
“[Meet the Candidates] is a really great way to put a face to the name, and not just see it online,” Laskowski said.
Emily McDonald, who is running to be an off-campus representative, said Wednesday’s event was a good way to get students to stop and get insight on student government. She said the turnout was not the best it could have been, but she hopes it will be better next week.
“Since we have two [sessions], it’s good to have this one act as a preliminary one to perfect the next one,” McDonald (freshman-international politics and economics) said.
This year’s election season is the first McDonald has participated in, but she says she expects this year’s elections to be a little different because there is only one presidential ticket. Katelyn Mullen and Brenden Dooley are running uncontested for president and vice president, respectively.
“The presidential ticket is the one ticket that gets most of the spotlight,” McDonald said. “It does take some spotlight away from the rest of the elections if there is only one [presidential ticket].”
Taylor Olson, running for Division of Undergraduate Studies representative, agreed with McDonald that the one presidential ticket might affect the elections.
“I hope we don’t see a decrease in voter turnout because of this,” Olson (freshmen- division of undergraduate studies) said.
Emily Miller, who is running to be a College of Education representative, said she was “excited” to come to Meet the Candidates, even though there were not many students there for her to talk with.
“I think the most important thing [for a candidate] is getting out there and talking to their constituency,” Miller (freshman-secondary social studies education and history) said. “I’m excited and I don’t mind waiting for people to show up.”