A typical debate has all candidates present, rebuttals, and a full audience, but this wasn’t the case last night.
USF’s first Student Government (SG) governor debate ran with one of two tickets running without a lieutenant governor, and both tickets on what the position of governor and lieutenant governor meant.
Peter Radulovic, one of the two potential governors at the debate sat alone. His lieutenant governor, Guy Dayhoff, was nowhere to be found.
Radulovic said in an interview with The Oracle that he learned Wednesday morning Dayhoff was ineligible to run for an SG position.
“Due to the terms of his [National Science Foundation] fellowship, [Dayhoff was] unable to take a position in Student Government,” Radulovic said.
Candidates were asked 17 questions in a Q&A format and given 90 seconds to answer before the question was given to the other ticket.
The two tickets rarely interacted with each other, considering none of them used their 45-second rebuttal.
When asked questions addressed to the ticket’s lieutenant governor, Radulovic remained silent as opposed to passing, leading to some tension.
He also opted to tap his microphone on the table during the gap of silence.
The audience comprised of around 25 students, with a couple notably wearing stickers representing Radulovic’s opponents, Spencer McCloskey and Zack Blair-Andrews.
McCloskey, running as governor, garnered most of the applause throughout the night among the sparse crowd.
Some of the loudest applause came from a well-known hot button issue: prioritizing Tampa before other USF campuses, especially when discussing the role governors will play in a consolidated SG.
“My vision is that the governor would be an advocate for this campus on its own,” Radulovic said. “The closer the power is to home, the better.”
On the same topic, McCloskey agreed with Radulovic.
“I had someone tell me yesterday, ‘Don’t forget about Tampa, because you’re running for Tampa,’ you know there’s other issues on other campuses… but you’re focusing on Tampa because there’s issues at home,” McCloskey said.
One of those issues is student representation, including a lack of diversity in the two tickets.
“We’re two white males,” McCloskey said. “We want to bridge that gap within the diversity that we see here.”
Radulovic addressed representation in a more personal way, asking students to email him directly so he can “use [his] position to advocate for [students] personally.”
When addressing a platform, McCloskey and Blair-Andrews talked about 11 initiatives that they hope to achieve while in their term, proposing a “Diversity Council” to help address a consistent theme of community interaction.
Radulovic emphasized direct student outreach and “not making empty promises” when talking about his respective platform.
“Part of the platform… is designed around the students,” Radulovic said. “This campaign is not about me, it’s about you, so that’s why I’m here and willing to listen and take any issues, initiatives, things that the students really want to be pushed forward and use my position to advocate for you personally before the university.”
McCloskey and Blair-Andrews gave concise and direct answers while joking with the crowd, while Radulovic often would leave the crowd in long bouts of silence while he would think of the answer.
“As you might be able to tell, I’m not the most, best person for public speaking here,” Radulovic said when asked about his weaknesses.
However, both tickets agreed that going forward with the governor position requires transparency and for students’ voices to be heard.
“I believe, you know, everyone’s personal opinion is significant here and we’re here to represent students,” Radulovic said.
After claps from the audience reduced to scattered snapping, McCloskey added, “We have to implement each and every part of this community, like a cog to this big machine, and you need to make sure you have all the cogs to make the machine work.”
In closing statements, Radulovic opted to move in front of the debate tables while McCloskey and Blair-Andrews stayed seated.
Blair-Andrews closed first.
“Each initiative on our platform is in direct response to an interaction that me or Spencer had with students on this campus,” he said. “We have listened and we are ready and excited to lead.”
Finishing off the debate, Radulovic closed to roaring applause.
“I can promise that I would be a direct advocate… Just know that you’re in good hands, and please make sure that you turn out to vote.”