Students eager to make informed vote

Green Party County Board candidate Walter Pituc speaks during the Rock the Vote workshop in Gregory Hall on Wednesday evening. Erica Magda

Ramzi Dreessen

Green Party County Board candidate Walter Pituc speaks during the Rock the Vote workshop in Gregory Hall on Wednesday evening. Erica Magda

By Jill Disis

The upcoming election will be the first opportunity for many University students to vote for their choice of not only the presidential candidate, but local legislators as well. However, some voters still remain unsure of the political views of many of these candidates.

Rock the Vote, sponsored by the Muslim Student Association, hoped to change those views Wednesday night in a workshop featuring several local candidates from all ends of the political spectrum.

“Our goal is to inform the student body on the presidential issues,” said Yumnah Tayyab, sophomore in LAS. “Whatever choice you make, it’s really important to vote.”

State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-103, and her Republican opponent Frank Calabrese spoke about the issues facing the nation alongside state Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-52, and Green Party candidate Walter Pituc, who is running for the Champaign County Board.

Jakobsson spoke about key issues in the state of Illinois and in the Champaign district, and covered her stances on economics, education, health care and civil rights.

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    “This is my University as well as it’s your own,” Jakobsson said.

    Jakobsson said it was important to redouble her efforts in getting support for the University.

    Calabrese said that national issues were important, and spoke about Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s policies on economics and health care, while distancing himself from McCain’s stance on foreign policy.

    Calabrese said McCain was somewhat misguided about his military policy and the perceptions of the United States worldwide.

    Walter Pituc said the Green Party was important and not to be forgotten.

    “I am confident that we are going to achieve some victory downstate,” Pituc said. “We only have two political parties in government. Challenge yourself, be an educated voter.”

    Pituc said education of the student body was also in the state’s best interest.

    “Students are not just receptacle bins to have information dumped into them,” said Pituc.

    Frerichs spoke about his support for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and the necessity to take into account the wealth of ideas in the country instead of just industrial ideas.

    Despite early emphasis on economic and health care issues, audience debate headed the workshop into a direction about Muslim participation in the election.

    Champaign lawyer Roaa Al-Heeti said the Muslim community needed to be taken into account.

    “We’re a small community, but I want to emphasize that our opinions do matter,” said Al-Heeti.

    Other participants had mixed feelings about the candidates’ speeches.

    “I thought the major questions that I asked didn’t get answered,” said Ahmed Ahmed, junior in Engineering. Ahmed said his personal opinion did not change. “I think whoever is campaigning for John McCain is doing a great disservice for our country.”

    Ali Anwar, senior in LAS, and Sharjeel Arshed, graduate student, said they wanted more insight on the local candidates and local issues.

    “It was the typical political crowd,” Arshed said. “But I was looking for something more real and I got that from Walter Pituc.”