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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Senate seat empty after elections

    While election night for ASUA was a joyful time for many, it left one with a bad taste in his mouth, resulting in a sudden resignation and heated words between a senator and an ASUA executive.

    The search is now on to fill a vacant seat in the Associated Students for the University of Arizona Senate following the resignation of former senator James Pennington-McQueen. Pennington-McQueen ended his senatorial term following his defeat in the ASUA general election to Associate Vice President-elect Seema Patel two weeks ago, Pennington-McQueen said.

    Only minutes after the election results were announced, Pennington-McQueen cleaned out his desk, removed his belongings and turned in his letter of resignation, said Jessica Anderson, executive vice president of ASUA.

    ASUA will be taking nominations through tomorrow for a new senator to finish the five weeks left on Pennington-McQueen’s term. Any UA student is eligible to serve or nominate another. Students must send a one-page letter nominating an individual and giving reasons for qualification of the position to the e-mail of ASUA President Tommy Bruce at tbruce@email.arizona.edu.

    “”We need to fill that seat, and we need to do it quickly,”” Bruce said.

    Pennington-McQueen’s departure is an untimely one for ASUA as the senators and executives recognize the newly elected ASUA officials for next year, he said.

    “”I’m always disappointed to see anyone resign from an elected position,”” Bruce said. “”Obviously he had a personal choice, and we respect the choice he has made.””

    The reasons for Pennington-McQueen’s resignation revolved around his frustration with ASUA’s inability to properly handle this year’s club funding, as well as the presence of special interest voting by the senate rather than being a voice for the students, Pennington-McQueen said.

    “”I was fed up with the incompetence of the people I was working with,”” he said. “”I really couldn’t stand them.””

    Going into his term as senator, Pennington-McQueen did so with the intention of reforming ASUA by examining ethics bylaws and cleaning up club funding processes. Reform issues were continually blocked by a monopoly of senators set up by Anderson to keep a broken system in their own interests, he said.

    “”Jessica had control of five or six senators,”” Pennington McQueen said. “”She’s going to end up as a second-year executive vice president that really hasn’t done anything.””

    Anderson’s special interests did not stop at manipulating votes, he said.

    Anderson and Bruce also groom members of the Freshman Class Council to reflect their own points of view if and when they are elected to senate seats, Pennington-McQueen said.

    “”(Anderson) makes sure that there is no room for new ideas,”” he said. “”She doesn’t have the students in mind.””

    Anderson calls the allegations of vote controlling and undue class council influence “”absolutely ridiculous,”” saying they are false claims levied by a senator who was unwilling to cooperate and communicate with much of the senate.

    “”It’s my job to talk with members of the Freshman Class Council when they have questions about things like how to run an election,”” she said. “”There’s nothing inappropriate about that.””

    ASUA Senators and executives are there to build a relationship with and support the class council, as well as expose freshman students to the inner-workings of government, Anderson said.

    Pennington-McQueen’s actions were often immature and did not reflect how an ASUA Senator should behave, as Pennington-McQueen “”stormed out”” of at least two senate meetings, she said.

    Distortions of the truth and the behind-the-scenes work by Anderson led to the continued failure of ASUA to properly serve the students, Pennington-McQueen said.

    “”It was just such a sad thing,”” he said. “”Jessica is good at what she does best, which is pretending to be a good executive vice president.””

    Pennington-McQueen’s resignation did not only affect the former senator. It also left the five senator-elects he supported without their advocate, an act Pennington-McQueen should have taken into consideration before deciding not to return to ASUA in a different role next year, Anderson said.

    “”It’s almost expected that if you’re going to devote your life in an entire year to be an executive, you should be passionate enough to stay,”” she said. The most disappointing part of Pennington-McQueen’s resignation is that his ideas for more student involvement and ASUA reform left the senate with him, he said.

    “”I was so frustrated, because I came in with a lot of hope for change,”” he said. “”I did what I could. I fought tooth and nail.””

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