Mercer for AS president

Seawolves, it’s that time of year again.

The Associated Students elections are one-week away, and on Feb. 24, the STAR hosted both presidential candidates in an exclusive interview to make an endorsement for the 2015-16 academic year.

STAR // Gustavo Vasquez Associated Students presidential candidates, Brandon Mercer and Nicole Dominique, answer questions with the STAR about their goals and plans for Sonoma State University on Feb. 24.

This year’s candidates, environmental studies and economics double-major Brandon Mercer, and psychology major Nicole Dominique, are two juniors who offer unique perspectives, experiences and a new take on how to lead the student body at Sonoma State University.

The STAR believes Sonoma State students would be well represented by either candidate, but in the end chooses to endorse Mercer.

Both contenders were asked a series of in-depth questions, which shed light on their knowledge and involvement in leadership positions at Sonoma State as well as an understanding of how the university operates.

Further, Mercer has a résumé full of relevant experience at Sonoma State, including time dedicated as a community service adviser, introducing incoming students as a summer orientation leader and being a faculty senate representative.

Dominique, who transferred to Sonoma State this year from Fresno State University, lacks the direct government experience Mercer has to offer, but makes up for it with her passion and personable demeanor, which would clearly play a role if elected.

Dominique said she would work for the students’ best interests, as she views them as her “coach” and herself as a “team player.” Dominique is very student-need oriented, which is shown through her love and devotion to those attending Sonoma State.

Offering a diverse perspective, Dominique brings experience at Fresno State to this campus. She has seen where Fresno State has prospered throughout her college career, and how Sonoma State could learn from its successes.

In this sense, Dominique could give the campus a push to become more unified, where students see Sonoma State as “a home away from home,” one of her primary goals if she becomes president.

Mercer, who appeared a bit stiff during the interview, is just as dedicated to the student body.

He has a strong understanding of how the university functions, as well as the importance of student governance and cooperating with academic leadership in the university’s administration.

Mercer credits his original interest in student leadership at Sonoma State with his involvement in Sauvignon Village Council as a freshman.

His position within the university’s academic senate, which he has served three committees focused on campus reengineering and graduation initiative, is something Mercer feels strongly about. He is interested in changing the six-year graduation average students seem to adhere to within the California State University system.

Mercer is running on the platform of creating more upper-division general education courses, as well as increasing shared governance at Sonoma State. This means he intends for students to have increased access to on-campus, entry-level jobs, offering career-building skills and things to enhance their résumés.

On the other hand, Dominique’s primary goals include diversity, student involvement and creating a home for students at Sonoma State.

Mercer has a better understanding of Sonoma State and the leadership experience to back it, but Dominique appears to have more passion for the campus.

Despite their contrasting strengths, the STAR has chosen to formally endorse Mercer for Associated Students president.

Dominique, however, is a compelling candidate for executive vice president, being interested in working not only for, but also with students. In essence, Mercer and Dominique working together is the best option for Sonoma State.

Voting begins Monday and ends March 11. Results will be announced from 7-8:30 p.m. in Lobo’s Pizza and Pub.