Who won Western's hearts and minds?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

From brightly-coloured T-shirts to lawn signs, Spoke Lounge debates to residence canvassing " it is obvious election season is upon us.

Throughout the presidential race, candidates have employed a wide range of tactics to gain the votes of Western’s student body.

The Gazette met with campaign managers, observed street teams and shadowed all four candidates to get the scoop on each presidential campaign.

Ryan Gauss, Stephen Lecce, and Christan Mariyanayagam all ran tight campaigns, including stops at various residences, faculty buildings, affiliate colleges and council meetings.

“Every man” candidate Mitch Steinberg, meanwhile, chose to bolster support in more social settings like the Ceeps.

Gauss’ campaign materials were most prevalent around campus; he had large signs and campaign literature. Despite his visibility, Gauss ran with a relatively small campaign team, with only five members on his executive.

Gauss’ campaign manager Jenn Price said his main push was to spend time with affiliates. “Now that the awareness aspect is over, Gauss is concentrating on individuals.”

Gauss took the time to speak at length with students one-on-one.

Lecce has also made his appearance known through bag-tags, signs and a big blue monster mascot. “It’s a great photo opportunity,” campaign manager Cara Eng explained. The oversized Monster’s Inc.-inspired creature can be seen touring faculty buildings wearing a signature green Lecce T-shirt.

Lecce has approached many students without hesitation. An entourage of campaign team members stood close by the presidential candidate.

Mariyanayagam’s street team, clad in brown, has been consistently visible in the University Community Centre. His campaign has a keen focus on asking students a simple question: “What can your USC do for you?”

Suggestions have been compiled on Mariyanayagam’s campaign website and will be worked into his platform, according to campaign manager Andrew Beach.

Beach and Mariyanayagam have been inseparable throughout the race. “I’ve learned it’s best to sacrifice my own sleep for my candidate,” Beach explained. “He’s the one who has to look good.”

Steinberg’s campaign focused on representing the five out of six undergraduate students who choose not to vote in USC elections. Bright orange T-shirts with the 5/6 fraction were signature campaign materials.

Steinberg relies on humourous posters, Internet buzz and the video game Rock Band to raise awareness.

Campaign manager Ryan “Snake” Day appeared intermittently, while Steinberg has largely represented himself. Steinberg prefers not to approach potential voters, and instead opts to let students come to him.

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