After two years as a senator at the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico, Colt Balok will take a shot at the undergraduate student government’s presidential seat in this semester’s election.
Balok, who leads the ASUNM slate Team U, said he decided to run for presidency because of his previous involvement in the student government. He said he aims to increase accurate representation of students in ASUNM.
“It was really the undergraduate community that motivated me to run,” he said. “Serving as a senator has really connected me to so many students that I have to represent in our student government. However, what I also learned was an overwhelming number of students who voice concerns and interests are absent at the table when their student government is making decisions.”
Balok originally ran for a senatorial seat at ASUNM in fall 2012 as an independent candidate. Last semester, Balok also ran with Team U and was re-elected as a senator.
“I’m one of the senior senators in ASUNM,” he said. “This gives me a lot of interaction with students. I got to see a side of the students that weren’t represented… It’s more than just experiencing ASUNM. It’s about knowing the campus in general.”
Balok said that as part of his campaign platform, he aims to support the University’s Athletic Department more.
“We realize that intramural sports and athletics, it does cost more for them to function, but I don’t think they should be penalized because of it,” he said. “They truly bring the most favorable light to the University of New Mexico. They represent us all over the country. People know us when we make March Madness.”
Balok will run for presidency against Sen. Rachel Williams, who leads the Connect ASUNM slate, and current ASUNM President Isaac Romero, who leads the Forward UNM slate.
Ayham Maadi, an ASUNM senator who will serve as Balok’s vice-presidential running mate, echoes Balok’s sentiments. Maadi said his slate aims to dispel myths about Athletics’ budget and expenditures and about student athletes in general.
Team U will also center on campus issues, such as improvement of the University’s Wi-Fi and more accessible parking, Maadi said.
Maadi said he decided to run alongside Balok because the presidential candidate’s personality is fit for the position.
“He is one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met,” Maadi said. “He could recognize his own failure if need be. He will make every effort, but if it’s going wrong, he would carry on and not at the cost of his pride.”
Maadi has been serving as a senator since last semester, in which he was elected for the seat while running with Balok in the Team U slate. He said he has worked for all committees of the ASUNM Senate.
Maadi said that if elected, he aims to represent students properly.
“The majority of students are underrepresented,” he said. “Many students don’t have the time to voice their opinions and raise their concerns to the student government. I don’t believe in holding them accountable for that. The student government is for the students. We are here to serve them.”
In the fall, Team U ran on the platform of achieving solvency for the Legislative Lottery Scholarship. Maadi said that during discussions, issues arose regarding ASUNM not accurately representing its constituency.
Romero recently faced opposition from groups that believed he was misrepresenting them when ASUNM representatives handed out fliers at UNM Day in the state Legislature stating students supported SB 150. The bill would have increased the minimum GPA required to keep the scholarship from 2.5 to 2.75. Romero later apologized for the incident.
But Balok said Romero did not mean to misrepresent.
“We all have the same intentions,” Balok said. “We just have different ways of dealing with what we want to do.”
Balok said that even if he does not snag the ASUNM presidency, he is content with the learning experience his candidacy brought.
“People are becoming more patient, more humbled, more intelligent, and just from that, this experience has already been a victory,” he said. “We’re not just looking at winning the election. We’re looking at how us running is making an impact.”
Early voting for this semester’s ASUNM election starts April 3.