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Moderate Green Party hopes to win the spring election by communicating with students

By: Joseph Basco, News Editor


From left: Green Party candidates Philip Sabado, John Fails, Red Party candidates Carlo Fassi and Mike Naughton. (Photo by Sean Murphy)

The Moderate Green Party, with John Fails and Philip Sabado as its respective presidential and vice presidential candidates, is campaigning on a primary platform that calls for an open dialogue between students and Student Government, which Fails said equates to transparency.


Fails and Sabado founded the party this semester. Though they lack prior SG experience and are running without a group of senators, both said they have experience in other areas that makes them qualified for the jobs.


Fails is a political science junior and a philosophy minor, Vice President of the UNF Model United Nations group and a military veteran who served during the Iraq War. He also worked at Veterans Services in downtown Jacksonville, which gave him insight into how City Hall works.


Sabado is a social sciences education junior and the President of the UNF Model United Nations group. He has been involved with Model UN since high school. He teaches students the importance of diplomacy and foreign policy. He said he is capable of bringing education-based ideas to the table.


What are some of your main platforms that you are running on?


Fails: Our biggest platform is trying to make sure we’re opening up lanes of communication between SG and the students. That means transparency. That means reaching out from SG. A lot of times, it can be difficult to know exactly when the meetings are, when things are taking place. We want to see more transparency, more openness, more inviting SG.


Philip Sabado: I would say our most important platform is one that isn’t formed yet. It’s the one that’s going to be the students’ concerns. We understand that the concerns of a student of color, a student of a different race, a gay student, an honor student, grad student and veteran student are all going to have different concerns. We are in the process of conducting a survey to get the pulse of the student body, to see what their main concerns are. And from there, that’s when we move forward.


Do you feel that the current SG administration is transparent enough?


Fails: The biggest thing that Phillip and I are bringing to the table is that we are not necessarily coming to the table saying, “Well, you are wrong. You’re wrong. You’ve done this wrong.” That’s not what we’re about. What we are about is saying, “This is the way things have gone up until this point. These are ways we can do it better.”


Why are you guys running?


Fails: I can give you a couple of reasons. First of all, I am a political science major. I take public policy very seriously. One of the things that kind of irks me just a little bit is that Carlo is running unopposed. Nothing against him, but students should always have a choice. SG is a huge responsibility, and they should have a choice.


Sabado: I’m most happy whenever I’m being used as a servant for the people. Whether it be my career as an educator, my career in Model United Nations, teaching students about diplomacy, my pizza delivery job and being a voice for students in SG, I would much rather be happier being that medium for the students. This is a job I would happily do without a salary.


How can a student directly come to you and discuss issues?


Fails: There are different avenues we are looking at. One of which is setting up a Blackboard [account] for the executive branch. That way, students can leave comments and have discussions. It’s not that much of an expense. Dominic [Beard, President of the UNF Political Science Honors Society,] has been great and was able to get one of those set up. Students can just take a look and say the things they’re noticing. We’ll have an open forum. It gives the executive branch an opportunity, not only to see comments but the discussions about those issues and possible recommendations. That gives us a unique opportunity to draw from our resource, and our resource is the students on campus.


The senate will likely be [a Red Party majority] after the election. How do you plan to go in there and essentially compromise with people of differing backgrounds?


Fails: That’s been a really big concern for us, too. That’s one of the things we’re running on – a “clean” campaign. We realize that, going out and saying something abusive to Red is not only ridiculous, but it doesn’t encourage an atmosphere of cooperation. That’s absurd. We’re not here to bash Red because I know people from the Red Party, and I’ve gone to classes with them. They’re really good people to work with. I want to work with them in the future. I would be looking forward to it. That’s one of the big things that I know we’re gonna have to do, which is propose rational things that may need to have a process of change attached to them.


Let’s talk about student issues. How would you propose to fix on-campus parking?


Sabado: One of the ways we want to approach that is propose something the Yellow Party started doing, which is to digitize it. We want to make a system that lets you know if there is parking or not before you go in [the parking garage.] So, there’s a number of ideas to where we want to continue the efforts that past administrations have done to help get those into fruition sooner.


Another issue is the increase in fees and tuition. The state has a big part in that discussion. What are your thoughts on UNF raising tuition and introducing new fees?


Fails: There’s people with me in my campaign that I am consulting. We have an accountant, who is an accounting major and knows his stuff. We have resources on campus to let us see where opportunities are at before we immediately go to a tuition raise. Is that something that will happen in the future? I can’t tell you, I’m not in office. But I can tell you that if there is a tuition raise that needed to be considered, it would be something I would approach the students with it before making any immediate decisions. You can hardly sit on the Board of Trustees and say this is what the students want if you’re not talking to them about it first.


How can students meet and talk with both of you before they vote?


Sabado: We have a couple of events that we’re planning right now. For example, one thing we have in mind is “The Green on the Green.” We’re going to post up on the Green and have a really big sign that says, “If you want to write down your concerns, write them down here.” We’ll be hanging out, listening to the students. We’re planning that event and a couple of other events just so students know that we’re listening.


What do you think your chances are of winning?


Fails: We have to go out and actually talk to the students and let them know we exist and give them the reasons why we want to represent them and what our voice means for them. We’re all about that, and we’ve come up to that challenge. So I think our chances are pretty good.


This interview with John Fails and Philip Sabado was conducted Feb. 23.


Email Joseph Basco at [email protected].


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