SG president, vice president hopefuls weigh in on key issues during Student Media debate


About 100 students packed into the Boathouse March 9 to listen to the student body presidential and vice presidential debate with candidates from the Red Party, Yellow Party and United Ospreys Party at the first Center for Student Media debate.

Despite the large turnout, the crowd was mostly party-line driven.

And whether the candidates gained or lost anything from the debate is still too early to tell.

Student Government Chief of Staff and Red Party Presidential candidate Tom Blanchard thinks despite the dearth of undecided voters, his party’s ticket improved its chances in the March 30 to March 31 election.

“I think we gained momentum,” he said.

Blanchard said more surveying was key to really understanding the student body.

“We are going to do student surveys consistently every month,” Blanchard said.

But current student body vice president and United Ospreys presidential candidate Mike Saathoff doesn’t agree.

“We can sit down, and we can take polls all day long,” Saathoff said. “A poll won’t do anything. I’ve seen polls, we cant keep throwing donuts at people to expect great results.”

One of Saathoff initiatives was to implement navigational systems to improve the shuttle service.

Saathoff said SG needs to become more transparent and needs to be better when it comes to public records requests.

Looking at credentials, Saathoff said he is the most qualified for the job because of his experience in SG. Saathoff has ran with the Red Party for three years but left the party this election cycle.

“The whole reason why I’m not running with the Red Party is simply because I’m tired of seeing backdoor politics,” Saathoff said. “I’m tired of text messages being sent and breaking of sunshine law and the list can go on.”

Yellow Party presidential candidate Sitou Gilles Byll-Cataria wants to see more minority students involved in the process. Though the Yellow Party may be viewed by some as the underdog, Byll-Cataria thinks there are enough students at UNF that he can pull voters from where Saathoff and Blanchard cannot.

“I say what I have on my heart, and if it’s what the students want, I urge them to do the right thing,” Byll-Cataria said.

All three candidates said they would veto the current budget that was recently sent back to the Budget and Allocations Committee. They also said they approve of the proposed wellness center and will continue to review parking to make it easier and more efficient for students. Also, all three said they would not raise the student fees associated with SG that is tacked onto each student’s cost of tuition.