Sole candidate pulled support early

Students heading to the polls tomorrow and Thursday for the 2008 Student Government elections will see only one name on the ballot for the highest-ranking student-elected leader at UK.

But even though he does not have an opponent, SG presidential candidate Tyler Montell said he is campaigning as if he did.

“We’re running like we’re 10 points behind,” Montell said. “Students have seen that Grant (Mills) and I have proven ourselves, and I think it would be hard to beat our platform.”

Montell and his running mate, Grant Mills, said being the only candidates has given them time to prepare for their term. They decided to run together in the fall, and without the pressure of opposition, Mills said the pair was able to focus on progressing with plans that can take effect once in office.

“It has allowed Tyler and I almost an extra month to be talking and planning on what we can work on next year,” Mills said. “I think that is the biggest advantage.”

Earlier in the year, there was talk of other possible presidential candidates, Montell said, but throughout the year potential candidates decided against running.

“I think after talking with us, Grant and I pulled a lot of support, and people wanted to be on board (with us),” he said.

The two candidates said they both are qualified because of their experience in a variety of areas. Montell is a two-term senator, serving as Senate president this past year. That experience, Montell said, gives him the advantage of knowing the internal and external roles of the SG president.

Mills said his involvement in other student organizations would help him offer fresh ideas for SG programs, projects and legislation.

“I’ve worked with everything on campus from being a tour guide to working with student organizations, Greek and non-Greek,” Mills said. “I think that will help me bring a different perspective.”

The president and vice-president will be sworn in sometime in April, but Montell said he and Mills intend to start working Friday morning, less than 24 hours after election results are announced. They already have a checklist of things to do, they said.

One of those items includes hiring the staff for next year’s SG office. Montell said he wants to build a staff of the most qualified people, not just people who are known in SG.

“I’m not just hiring people that helped with the campaign,” Montell said. “I want to hire the best possible students.”

The office of vice-president does not have many specific duties outlined in the SG constitution, Mills said, and he is looking forward to expanding his responsibilities.

Last semester, Vice President Brittany Langdon changed legislation so that the vice president would be in charge of the Leadership Development Program. Mills said he wants to continue that program and keep expanding its role to help more students.

“I want to play a larger role in the university and staff Senates working with academic policies,” Mills said. “Those decisions affect students’ daily lives, and we need stronger representation there.”

Once in office, Montell said the first piece of legislation he would focus on is a Senate accountability act. Earlier this month, the Senate approved an amendment that would require every new Senate to create an outline for the expectations of its members for that term. The act is a good way of proving to students that senators take their jobs seriously, Montell said.

Creating a successful and balanced budget is also a priority, Montell said. Adjusting the amounts and number of line items would provide more money to fund student organizations.

“Our top three funding priorities would be the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center, DanceBlue and diversity on campus,” Montell said.

The current administration has done a great job at being active and getting outside the office to connect with students and administrators on campus, Montell said. But SG still has room for improvement, Montell said.

“(Nick Phelps’) involvement in the student body and the Board of Trustees has been great,” he said. “No SG president has done that much outside office work before. But communication with the student body is something we can continually do better.”