In this week’s Associated Students of the University of New Mexico Senate election, four slates and several individual candidates will be asking for your vote. With elections taking place Monday through Wednesday, Nov. 15. The Daily Lobo's Gabriella Rivera asked them about their campaigns and how they hope to make an impact on the University. Candidate Brandon Bennett (No. 4) did not respond in time for this interview.

How are you (as an individual candidate or as a slate) uniquely equipped to represent the diversity and interests of the student body?


“EMPOWER is the student voice. We represent the cultural richness and diversity of UNM, we represent the diversity of thought — we are your voice. We know the issues, our slate represents a plethora of organizations and issues — STEM, the resource centers, Greek life, minority inclusion and so much more. EMPOWER is the most inclusive voice.”



No. 1 Deandra Durham (interviewee)

No. 19 Samuel Eze

No. 25 Pablo Nic Lasso


No. 3 Jared Pollock

No. 6 Rocky Cordova (interviewee)

No. 7 Jorge Rios

No. 12 Landon Taylor

No. 17 Madelyn Lucas

No. 20 Morgan Mitchell

No. 22 Summer Begay

No. 23 Holly Gallegos

No. 28 Lucas Maestas


No. 2 Mohammed Assed

No. 5 Molly Callaghan (interviewee)

No. 16 Arlin Bustillos

No. 24 Madeline Kee

No. 26 Rose Cary

No. 27 Jacob Rivera


No. 9 Satchel Ben

No. 11 Emily Hartshorn (interviewee)

No. 13 Nadine Oglesby

No. 14 James Campbell III

No. 18 Libertie Green

No. 21 Jacob Silva

Individual Candidates

No. 4 Brandon Bennett

No. 8 Ona-Rain Morgan

No. 10 Kayla Montez

No. 16 Navalyn Platero

Polling locations and times, according to the ASUNM website:

Tuesday, Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

SUB Mall Level (second floor) by the Welcome Desk.

Wednesday, Nov. 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Student Residence Center Commons

Zimmerman Library

SUB Mall Level (second floor) by the Welcome Desk

Online Voting Period:

Open Monday, Nov. 13 at 9 a.m. and will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

“As a member of LEAD ASUNM's slate, I can without a doubt say that we come from many different backgrounds and walks of life — we’re proud to be a very diverse group of individuals ourselves. Coming at issues with different ideas and opinions will help each of us define all of us.”


“Our team brings together big ideas and proven leadership to (the) ASUNM Senate. We are running, because UNM students deserve a fresh face in student government, and a team that will (tirelessly) work towards financial responsibility, sustainability, campus safety and a new and improved app.”


“So our slate is made up of two returning senators and four new senators. We see this as a good balance. The returning senators can really use their previous knowledge and grasp of the student body to really continue working on issues that students have brought forward to us. The four new senators really have a great grasp on the position as well, and they all have issues that they are passionate about. Something we care about is election reform. Reforming the elections can hopefully bring in more diverse voters, that can actually get people elected who represent the entire student body — our slate can do that.”

Ona-Rain Morgan:

“I believe that my background and career here at UNM makes me equipped to represent the student body. I am an out-of-state student here on scholarship, and I have faced many trials in my life. That, coupled with my involvement in all different student groups, organizations and jobs on campus helps me to better understand what the student body wants. Some of these include, ((Residence) Hall Association), being a new student orientation leader, working in ASUNM Lobo Spirit and being an RA for Lobo Village. I don’t for a second think I have all the answers however, and if elected, I plan to continue to reach out to more and more students to see how they want to be heard by ASUNM.”

Kayla Montez:

“Entering as a solo candidate is a bit intimidating; however, I believe my involvement on campus as well as my love for this school gives me more drive. As a member of the UNM Army ROTC program I understand the importance of giving back as well as leadership. I plan to use these traits to lead our student body and continue to improve our University.”

What are some of the priority issues you plan to address in Senate, and how will you address them?


“EMPOWER believes the cultural richness and diversity of thought at UNM should be upheld within ASUNM, since each senator is to represent 1,000 students. Protected seats within ASUNM remain a priority to EMPOWER, to ensure true, equitable and sustainable representation within ASUNM’s structure. Furthermore, we seek to advocate for cheaper parking fares through the reformation of Parking and Transportation Services. Each (year’s) senators promise their availability to the student body and organizations, without a plan in place to do so. Your grievances are ours, and we will hold forums three times a month to ensure the issues students have raised are properly addressed and heard.”


“LEAD ASUNM’s top priorities are: listening to students, broadening forums, townhalls and roundtables so students are aware of the issues that are affecting them firsthand; engaging students and engaging with issues that are important to students on campus, like student fees and student safety; acting on providing solutions, working with student groups to have their voice heard and properly represented; and lastly, delivering results by having tangible goals that can actually be accomplished in our term. We pledge not to make any promises we can’t uphold, and we’re proud to have two incumbent senators who are no strangers to how this process can benefit students.”


“We plan to hold the (Board of) Regents accountable for financial mismanagement at UNM, promote a green campus, organize a community watch program and bring innovation to the UNM app. UNM students don't need more of the same — they need fresh ideas and brave leadership to take action on the issues facing UNM students.”


“Some of the issues that my slate and I are very passionate about are creating a greener campus and financial accountability. We would like to continue some of the current work being done in Senate and keep pushing a green initiative on campus. Working with the SUB, Johnson and the dorms, we would like to educate students about recycling — i.e. what is recyclable, where you can recycle it — as well as increasing the amount of recycling cans on campus, as there really isn’t enough outside the center of campus. For financial accountability, we believe that ASUNM funds student groups appropriately, but not adequately. Part of that is holding workshops about the financial process and actually alerting student groups about the resources that ASUNM has to offer. Also, actually talking with student groups and getting from them what they really need funding for, and what they really want to get from ASUNM.”

Ona-Rain Morgan:

“Some of the main issues I want to start the (groundwork) for would be continuing connections with new incoming students beyond just NSO. Giving new students that resource of having a mentor their first semester can help retention rates and help the overall success of students here, at UNM. I want to start working with resource centers, ASUNM and (residence) halls to set up a mentor program that anyone can help and be a part of.”

Kayla Montez:

“One of the biggest issues I see and hear about on campus is security. I believe increasing our Lobo police force could help with the issue; however, we could also do a lot more as students to prevent smaller incidents from happening, and I believe promoting safety is something I hope to do, should I be elected into Senate. Although this is not a current issue, I believe it is always important to keep moving forward as a greener campus. The University of New Mexico is our home and preserving (its) beauty is something we should take pride in.”

What do you perceive as the strengths of the University?


“UNM is culturally rich and offers an affordable education. We want to ensure these strengths are regarded within ASUNM, to increase retention and the overall university experience for students.”


“UNM is the flagship University of New Mexico; on top of many ranked programs we have are the medical school, law school and research programs. We are incredibly diverse as a student body, which I think is why many people find their home at UNM.”


“Our campus is diverse and rich in culture. UNM students are the thinkers, the doers and the dreamers — their representatives in student government should be the same.”


“UNM is incredibly diverse, and we really appreciate that diversity. UNM is also an incredibly underrated school. We shine in academics, and it is so unseen.”

Ona-Rain Morgan:

“Some of the strengths of the University include the diversity of our students. We all come from different backgrounds, but we are all Lobos in the end. We should be highlighting this and using it to our advantage in both a large setting with the new University branding and internally.”

Kayla Montez:

“In my opinion, one of the biggest strengths of the University is our spirit. Whether it be at sporting events, social gatherings and even in the classroom, UNM students and staff go the extra mile to support one another. This united front proves to be such a valuable resource that attracts thousands of (students) from different walks of life to attend our University. With that being said, another strength would be our diversity that keeps the spirit alive throughout campus.”

How will you work with new University leadership (President, Provost, etc.) to make the student voice heard?


"EMPOWER has one voice — the student voice. It is our responsibility to ensure students are heard. We will work extensively with the new University leadership to hold them accountable and guarantee students are being accounted for through ensuring and increasing the transparency of students’ issues and ensur(ing) that UNM’s policies are reflective of its student body."


"UNM has not had very many past presidents who have engaged with students. This is a major problem for our University and one we think can easily be solved. We would like to meet with incoming president Garnett Stokes and talk about everyday issues that do affect students. However, we would also like President Stokes to also engage and listen to students by meeting with them, having a stable presence outside Scholes Hall to hear their concerns and having a President who will attend events that students do."


"We have an opportunity to change things at UNM with the new leadership that is coming in. ThinkUNM will immediately start a dialogue with the new leadership about student concern about the direction of UNM on our first day of office."


"I think the most important job of the UNM president is to fight for student scholarships. The new (president’s) most pressing job should be continuing the fight for the Lottery Scholarship, as every year the state (tries) to take more and more money away from higher education through reducing the Lottery Scholarship. While I wish that a bill or resolution could help fix this ever-pressing issue, it really cannot. As current senators, Satchel and I understand this. But, we also understand that a (senator’s) voice can be used in a powerful way. Working with Dr. Stokes, our slate wants to continue the fight for the Lottery Scholarship. Student involvement is crucial, and if we can show to the state legislature that enough students — their constituents— are benefitted by this scholarship, and if the new president and UNM upper-management fight for it as well, we will hopefully see the tide turning."

Ona-Rain Morgan:

"I think it’s unrealistic to expect different results when we just do the same thing over and over again. With new leadership coming in, this is the opportunity to start a realistic conversation about what the student body of UNM actually wants. I am excited to see how new leadership works with the student body in the next 5 years and how we, as senators, can start to facilitate that."

Kayla Montez:

"At our first candidate meeting we heard speeches from current members of the UNM Senate, and although each story was unique, they all had one common message that this was rewarding work that required dedication. Each member of the UNM Senate is required to have office hours during the week where (students) can come speak. However, for me this is not enough, I plan to reach out to groups as equally, if not more, than they reach out to me. It is important that we keep this campus united at all times."

In response to the questions, Navalyn Platero responded:

"I think that running as a solo candidate I am able to represent the student body as a non-traditional Navajo/Apache student. I would bring a unique perspective and point of diversity that is not reflective of the ASUNM Senate today. The University has come far in terms of having the voices of the diversity of students but still has a ways to go. The safety of the students and the changes in reference to are one of the key strengths of UNM."

Gabriella Rivera is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @gabbychlamps.