On Tuesday, the two ASG presidential candidates, Wakely Wolf and PonyBoy Peterman, squared off against each other in a debate held in the Main Mall.
Moderated by Rafael Ordorica of the ASG Elections Committee, the event saw the two candidates answered a variety of questions, on everything from goals and experience to food options and student outreach.
The overall tone of the debate was respectful, with each candidate praising the others’ plans: “Wake and I agree on a lot of things,” said Peterman at one point during the debate, while Wolf said that Peterman was “a really great guy, I really have a lot of respect for him. He’s a very admirable person to run against.”
Asked about his top priority, Peterman said that student success was his No. 1 goal: “Of all the lofty goals that people tend to make, mine is for people to finish (school). I want people to be successful… our job is not only to create an environment and a culture for them to be successful, but to really make sure and follow through to the end that they get the degree or the occupational certification that they need. Why else are we here? We’re here to be educated.”
Wolf said that his top priority was homeless students.
“Everybody knows Maslow,” he said, presumably referring to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in which food and shelter are the basic needs upon which all other human success is built. “…(S)o right now I think the needs are the homeless. I think not a lot of people are aware of this, but, yes, there are a lot of students who attend this campus who are homeless. They sleep out in their cars.”
Wolf highlighted the impact the Student Success Program at Mt. Hood made in his life, and in the lives of other students who have experienced homelessness.
Some of the questioning was more pointed. When asked “What are some of the weaknesses in your rival’s plan, and what would you do better?” Peterman identified in Wolf “a lack of logistical experience… I’ve been on (the ASG) senate for a year now, I’ve been a little bit more involved with the administration, I have to talk to all the administrators… I would say that my opponent has good intentions but I don’t think he has the know-how it takes to really get it done.”
Wolf’s response: “If for one second I thought that PonyBoy could outdo the job I could do, I would immediately drop out. I have much experience, even though it has not been on ASG. I have bought a house, and I have sold a house. I have owned my own business, in my past, and I have done much community work.” Citing community organizations he helped start, he said “I know how to bring people together, I know how to reach out to community.”
Moving on, Peterman fielded a question about an Advocate newspaper article where he stated, “We could use the student fee money better (and) I was more thinking of the awareness of the services that you’re paying for.”
As an example, Peterman said there are four different types of tutoring offered on campus, and said the focus should be more about presenting these resources to students, than creating new ones. ”I think people need to be utilizing as much of (these resources) as possible… I don’t think people know why they’re spending the money (student fees), and I think that we should include that when you enroll for classes.
“There should be some sort of breakdown of the money that you’re spending, then people might be more invested,” he said.
Wolf spoke about how he would manage his responsibilities as ASG president while a full-time student and father of a young child. He said that in every other job he’s had, “whether it was restaurant manager, or something that I was trying to accomplish, I always came through. I don’t disappoint.
The two deviated on what they would do if they could change anything they wished at MHCC.
Wolf said, “If I had the power, I’d make myself president, to be honest. I’m the only one who can bring you these opportunities. I’m sorry, (Peterman) can’t talk about kids, cause guess what? He doesn’t have a kid. Can PonyBoy talk about immigrants? No, he doesn’t come from an immigrant family like I do. Is PonyBoy a first generation student? No, not even. His mom actually served on ASG, too.”
Peterman responded: “I personally don’t come from any of those backgrounds (described by Wolf). But I’ve grown up alongside them and I can’t say that’s a good substitute at all. Wake’s got me on that one.
“But this is where I, as a delegator, stand back and enable the people who know what they’re doing to get it done,” Peterman said. “I went to a M.E.C.H.A. meeting, and they were grilling me with questions, and I loved it – I did nothing but grow from the experience. No matter what position you’re in, everyone needs to grow from their experiences, regardless of your background, ethnicity, or any sort of adversity you have,” he finished, to applause from the debate audience.
Peterman said that if he could change anything at MHCC, he would make student tuition free.
“States are already doing that, it’s a lofty goal- we’re talking about ‘anything’? Free tuition. That would put us so far ahead of the mark in terms of competitiveness – if we had all of our resources invested toward student success,” he said. “If we could get free tuition, and we could just get all of that money spent toward funding clubs and community affairs, student outreach and SOAR (instead).
“I don’t even know what would be possible. It has never happened in the state of Oregon. We’ll use the marijuana tax as a good example (and) that’s how other states are doing it – we can lobby. ASG goes to Salem every year.”
Ultimately, Peterman touted his ASG experience in the past year as a reason to vote for him. “I’ve learned so much, that I don’t think any adviser in the world could bring you (Wolf) up to speed in the duration of the summer term,” he said. “I don’t see how anyone could just jump in and figure it out as you go – you’re going to hit so many roadblocks.”
Wolf stressed that his rival’s experience was limited to ASG. “I know who to talk to… I know what it takes to actually bring real people here to this campus,” he said. “If you reach out, you can really get people to come in and help you.”
Online ASG voting ends today, Friday, May 26, at 11:59 p.m., at: mhcc.edu/vote.