Endorsement may lead Democrats astray

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As an active member and executive board member of the Cal Berkeley Democrats, I am shocked and disappointed to see that Paul Murre, president of the California College Democrats, endorsed Connor Landgraf for ASUC president without consulting our chapter here on campus. First, Paul is not and never has been a UC Berkeley student, so he does not speak for any Democrat on this campus nor does he understand the dynamics of Cal. But more importantly, I fear that Paul’s endorsement misleads the campus community into thinking that Connor is the best choice for Democrats, despite the fact that Andrew Albright has been an integral member of Cal Dems since his first year at Cal and has been our most vocal representative in the ASUC Senate this year. Andy received the endorsement of Anais LaVoie, president of the Cal Berkeley Democrats, with the unequivocal support of our executive board and chapter membership.

For Democrats at Cal, the choice is clear. Andy has represented the Cal Berkeley Democrats at statewide Democratic Party conventions. He co-authored a bill to divest university funds from Bank of America and instead advocated for the use of local banks that reinvest in the community. He has worked closely with the Berkeley City Council and local business owners to revamp the Telegraph area south of campus. He organized a lobbying visit to Sacramento to put students at the table with legislators regarding higher education affordability. Andy has experience doing the outstanding work we expect from our ASUC President next year.

On the other hand, Connor’s rhetoric and ASUC Senate record gives me pause. While he has recently promoted his Democratic Party affiliation, various people, including those from within Student Action, dispute its integrity. His voting record also betrays a conservative streak contrary to the values of this campus. Last fall, Connor was one of only two ASUC Senators to vote against a bill remembering of the victims of 9/11 after defending the Berkeley College Republicans’ opposition because it included indirect victims of the tragedy, such as those affected by increased Islamophobia in the United States. Furthermore, he has abstained from acting on bills supporting student activism, such as funding student groups to rally for equitable admissions in San Francisco or a bill to support the Irvine 11 protesters. Given these revelations, I am forced to wonder if Connor is hiding his true political beliefs to run for ASUC president. Regardless of his party leanings, the incongruence of his stated beliefs with his record makes me question his leadership and the values he currently espouses.

2012 is a critical year for students of all political stripes. With a presidential election, ballot measures to increase revenue to support education and local elections in Berkeley, we need elected officials that represent our values. We need consistent and transparent leaders who are unafraid to stand for their beliefs and will fight to ensure that they become reality.

In the past, I have supported Student Action candidates at all levels, but this year, I find their failure to find a qualified Democrat for ASUC President indicative of Student Action’s complacency around issues that students care about. Even without the partisan labels, I find it difficult to support a candidate who is not completely open and transparent about his beliefs before the student community. This year, I am supporting CalSERVE’s Andy Albright because he has proven himself to be a strong leader that works with diverse communities for real solutions, an unwavering advocate for Democratic values and student issues on and beyond our campus and a stalwart friend whose abilities, dedication and rhetoric I can trust.

Chasel Lee is a member of Cal Berkeley Democrats.