After 11 years as a prominent political party in ASUCD, the Leadership, Empowerment, Activism and Determination (LEAD) party seems to be coming to an end.
LEAD, created in 2000, is a slate that dominated many ASUCD elections in past years. Generally considered a left-leaning slate, LEAD won the executive office seven times while an active part of ASUCD. However, there are no candidates running on the LEAD slate in the current ASUCD election.
While LEAD seemed to be successful even up through the last executive election, in which Jack Zwald won as president on the LEAD slate, many say that issues within the party were apparent nearly two years ago.
Problems began when LEAD lost the executive office in 2009 to independent candidates Joe Chatham and Chris Dietrich, said Zwald, current ASUCD president and senior international relations major.
“Some people in LEAD wanted to contest the election due to the problems they saw in the election, and some of us did not. That created a lot of animosity and that finally split us up. The loss of our traditional bases, and a lot of the LEAD party elders graduating, left us as a much more weakened organization,” Zwald said.
According to Zwald, much of LEAD’s reliability and strength came from its history as a party.
“LEAD was a great organization in that we had institutional memory, we had a system to train people on how the ASUCD system works and we got them into important positions,” he said. “We knew what worked and didn’t work because we had people who had been around. We had people to talk to when we needed something done. Not only that, we gave voters a brand name of qualified candidates, so that they knew that when they voted LEAD, they knew exactly what they were getting.”
However, some feel that the demise of LEAD is due to the fact that it had become a less democratic organization, and some members of LEAD made the move to the BOLD party, the only slate participating in the current election.
Andre Lee, who is currently serving as an ASUCD senator with the BOLD party, previously served on senate with LEAD. He made it clear that while LEAD had been a fair and good organization, it has changed over the past few years.
“Overtime it became a lot less democratic and they had poor showings in the last elections … [Later] there was less interest in keeping it going from members,” said Lee, senior political science major.
It was never officially voted on to end the LEAD slate, but it seems very clear to most that it will no longer be a part of ASUCD, Lee said.
“From what I’m aware of, there wasn’t even a vote to dissolve the slate, which is something I know people called for from as early as last year. Even the slate going away wasn’t a democratic decision. If you were to ask if it were officially dead, there’s no way to really know, it basically just kind of evaporated,” Lee said.
In opposition to Lee’s view, Tatiana Moana Bush, current ASUCD senator and LEAD affiliate, said that this isn’t necessarily the end of LEAD.
“People might just need a little bit of a timeout or a break,” said Bush, senior political science major.
Bush is not alone in her belief that LEAD could make a comeback sometime in the future.
“I think right now we’re in a state of rebuilding,” said Rudy Ornelas, director of ASUCD legislation and policy. “It’s quite possible that it could come back. LEAD has had a setback like this before. I’m not sure who will take up the mantle, but we still have currently elected senators. I’m not really sure what’s going to happen.”
Bush will be the only remaining person at the senate table on the LEAD slate after the current election is over.
Whether LEAD is officially gone or merely gone for the time being, many wonder what the disappearance of LEAD from ASUCD will mean for ASUCD as a whole. Zwald and Lee both said that the idea of having a one-slate system seems unhealthy for the election system.
“Competition is good. You need more than one slate, otherwise it becomes very difficult for there to be competitive elections. What is really best for the association is not individual slates, but competition between two or more slates,” Lee said.
Zwald agreed that competition is necessary for a healthy election system and is hopeful that LEAD’s absence, whether temporary or permanent, will be a positive thing for ASUCD in the long run.
“It will take a few years for anyone to get as influential, organized and knowledgeable about the issues as the LEAD slate was. I think that other parties will emerge and that it will be a good thing for the system,” Zwald said. “I think that the end of LEAD is not the end of ASUCD. ASUCD will continue and there will be tons of new, great student leaders in the future that will hopefully keep on a similar mission of the LEAD slate.”
HANNAH STRUMWASSER can be reached at email@example.com.