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Davis, California

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Vacant Senate seat filled for remainder of term

Former ASUCD External Affairs Commission Chair Carly Sandstrom was confirmed as a senator at Thursday’s Senate meeting.

Sandstrom applied for the position of interim senator online at the ASUCD website and then attended an interview with ASUCD President Rebecca Sterling on Nov. 13.

She currently works with University Outreach and International Programs.

Only 11 senators filled a Senate table intended for 12, after former Senator Yara Zokaie resigned from her position. Zokaie, who graduated from UC Davis in the spring and enrolled at law school at the University of San Diego, said she was unable to keep her position due to her falling short of her duties as senator because of the demands of law school. Though Zokaie held her position as senator in the beginning of the 2012-13 academic year, she was unable to physically attend the weekly meetings.

With less than two weeks left in the current Senate term, Sandstrom said she felt that it was necessary for the empty seat to be filled, regardless.

“[This seat] is supposed to represent the student voice, the fact we have had a seat empty for seven weeks now has been a hindrance to our association since that is one less person representing the student body,” she said in an email interview.

According to Internal Affairs Commission Chair Sergio Cano, approximately 16 individuals applied for the position.

All interviews were conducted Nov. 13 from 7 to 10:30 p.m. in the Executive Office.

“This was ultimately [Sterling’s] decision of whom she would want to appoint,” Cano said in an email interview.

Cano explained that because of her previous position with ASUCD, Sandstrom already had a relationship with Sterling and many other ASUCD officials.

A countback election was carried out to determine if there were any eligible candidates to fill the vacancy. A countback uses results and information from a choice voting election in the past when an official resigns or is terminated. Charlie Colato, the candidate who was not elected during last school year’s elections, was contacted to fill the vacant seat at the table. According to the ASUCD Elections Committee, Colato indicated his willingness to fill the vacancy, but later explained that he could not due to his non-enrollment status.

The ASUCD President is given responsibility for filling the vacancy at the table on an interim basis, if a countback candidate is not able to carry out the duties.

According to Cano, Article 2, Section 11 of the ASUCD Bylaws stipulates procedures for managing vacancies in the Senate.

“The president shall exclusively appoint a successor from among applications received during a one week advertising period,” the Bylaws state.

According to Sterling, the posting for the vacancy was posted on the ASUCD jobs website for two weeks and no other applicants were considered outside of those who applied through the website.

“We had many applicants express interest in the position, many of whom had been involved with ASUCD in some regard and had heard about the position. I know multiple commissions did outreach for the position as well as my office,” she said in an email interview.

Any individual appointed by the ASUCD President requires a majority vote of the Senate to be confirmed to the position, according to Cano. The Senate can also remove confirmed individuals by a two-thirds majority vote, though this is not possible for elected officials, who can only be removed by recall.

Sterling said that because it is the responsibility of the Association to represent the student body, allowing for a continuing vacancy on the Senate would be a “failure and neglect of that duty.”

Unlike Sandstrom and Sterling, Cano said he did not think that filling the vacancy was urgent, with less than two weeks left to the term.

“There were no crucial issues or change that would come from such an appointment. The table still remains largely divided and the division is even greater with [Sandstrom] on the table,” he said.

Sandstrom said that her being confirmed as senator will not hinder her other duties, such as her work on the ASUCD Scholarship.

“My senate title for this short amount of time won’t change that in any way,” she said.

Sandstrom said she does not intend to request pay for her two weeks as a senator.

“I think it will be much better to roll back into Capital Reserves and act as an investment for something else. My term is so small, I can’t accomplish that much to really deserve pay. The senators elected worked hard for their positions, and I don’t think I should earn the compensation they do,” she said.

Senators Jared Crisologo-Smith, Justin Goss, Anni Kimball, Erica Padgett, Patrick Sheehan and Sandstrom will offer their farewells at the final Senate meeting of this term. The meeting will take place on Nov. 29 at 6:10 p.m. in the Mee Room of the Memorial Union.

MUNA SADEK can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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