Interview with Rob Elsaid, candidate for President. His opponents are Matt Belcher and Korey Hummer.
Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I consider Rob Elsaid to be a friend of mine. We attended high school together and have maintained a somewhat personable relationship since then. Our time spent together in high school comes up a couple times in the interview.
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Chris Slater: To start off with, what is your SGA experience?
Rob Elsaid: I originally started off as the WMLT rep. I served for the first semester and then the second semester of that term, I wound up withdrawing from school. Since then, I’ve come back and I’ve been on Budgetary, worked on several different committees. More specifically, I did the Higher Ed. Day by myself, which was recognized by President [Jeff] Yeager. I’ve been a rep. on and off for the past three years. Of course, I’ve always worked behind the scenes to help any individual who has asked.
CS: What initially attracted you to the SGA?
RE: Originally, I was forced to go to the SGA. Pretty much, WMLT said they needed a rep. and, even then, it wasn’t really highly looked upon by students. So, I ended up being the naïve freshman saying, “I’ll do it!” because I wanted to be helpful, which is something that carried over from high school.
CS: Why did you decide to run for President?
RE: Honestly, I was asked to make sure that we had a decent candidate, I guess you could say. People weren’t exactly sure who was running, although rumors were around. I was asked by a couple students to try it and after a long debate with Lesley [Weeks, his fiance], I came up with the idea that I would run and see what the students say.
CS: What do you plan to accomplish if you’re elected?
RE: Honestly, as of right now it’s a high possibility that Josh Lawson is going to be the Board of Governors representative. And, if that happens, I think we have the ability to get a lot more accomplished than most administrations because of our relationship with the administration. First of all, I’m really wanting to push for the international housing initiative there, it just needs the logistics worked out. And, the truth is, it’s not so much what I want to get done, it’s what the students think they want done. The students are the ones who pay for the services here and any administrative person you run into will say that there’s room for improvement, but the question is how? Right now, Dustin Blankenship, me, and Josh Lawson are working on a $15,000 grant to bring green sustainability to Concord. We do this because we love this school.
CS: What will you do if you’re not elected President?
RE: If I’m not elected, I’m going to continue working. I will assist students on an individual basis, as I always have. And, when asked to help, I usually do.
CS: What are your thoughts on your opponents campaigns?
RE: I’d prefer not to comment about that. I can see a reflection of a lot of things, that I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment.
CS: What are some areas the SGA is doing well in, and where do you think they can improve?
RE: The SGA has worked on the Ethics committee very largely. I do think that the SGA has become very complacent, which allows it to get more done. But, being complacent is harming them because students are becoming seemingly more apathetic. Without that voice behind the SGA, the SGA really doesn’t have a big place here and they really need to improve on being the voice for the students.
CS: You’re an older, kind of a more “non-traditional” student. Will that affect your abilities to be a student leader, more so than somebody living on campus; somebody younger?
RE: No, I actually think that - I’ve lived on campus and experience makes people better at their jobs. You typically don’t have somebody that has never been to law school be your lawyer. The more experience you have, I would hope the better you’ve gotten.
CS: You were taken off the ballot for Attorney General in 2008. Why was that?
RE: In 2008, there was a big mix up concerning how many weeks I had served a representative, this and that. And, the courts decided that it was not right, as I gave them the only proof that could validate whether I was or was not, and that was a statement from an individual that was here at the same time I was. And, unfortunately, the ballot was already done and it was last minute, and I was unable to be placed back on and run for the Attorney General position.
CS: So, were you supposed to be put back on the ballot and they couldn’t do that?
CS: Do you think they should have handled that differently?
RE: Umm… I was there when the decision was made. Joe Lanham was the Prime Justice. I think he was persuaded to do so. He was trying to be safe, rather than sorry. And, he was already being threatened with being impeached. Which, later, of course, led to him resigning.
CS: With you out of the race, Jeff Yeager would up winning that election. And, his good showing as Attorney General kind of allowed him to become President. Do you think things worked out for the best in that regard, or do you still wish you had been in that race?
RE: I would have loved to have been in the race. But, when I was forced out of the race, I personally went and supported Yeager. If I wasn’t going to be in the race, I wanted to voice my opinion. And, at the time, I think it was very well-known that there was a plot to get me out and some of the opponents cause that. And, so I did the best thing I could, which was pick the next-best candidate in my eyes, which was definitely Jeff Yeager. And, he has gone on to do extremely well in SGA.
CS: Negative campaigning regarding a situation in your past was starting to come up in the last election, which didn’t get a chance to come up. There’s kind of been rumors that it may come up this time. What are your thoughts on negative campaigning in general? And, if you’d like to address anything, you can.
RE: I think negative campaigning can serve a place for campaigning, as people deserve to know who they’re voting for. People do deserve to know who they’re voting for is somebody embezzled thousands of dollars from the school, or this and that. But, when it comes to personal issues where it does not affect the job, it doesn’t deserve a place. My issue was concerning me and my wife. Which, officially, was dropped due to her best friend coming forward and saying it was a plot. I don’t want to go into great details about it, but if I was such a horrible person, I wouldn’t be allowed at Concord, and I wouldn’t work for John David Smith.
CS: Here’s a tough question for you: remember that time in high school when you got us all “in-school suspension” for yelling out of a window?
RE: No, I don’t. [laughs]
CS: That was me. [laughs] Actually, you may have gotten out of it. I got Dave and Ralph in trouble. Anyway, that looks like everything for me. Is there anything else you’d like brought up?
RE: I have flyers up explaining this, I am using only original ideas for my campaign. I am not building off false promises. Everything I say, I plan to do. As proof of that, you can look back at my track record. Even when I didn’t win, I did what I said I was going to do for constituents. And, also, I just want to try and make a database of student complaints. I gave my e-mail address to everyone that has a concord campus box, so that if there are ideas for complaints, improvements, the SGA will know. And, from there, I will have a true platform to build off of. Because, like I said, it’s not so much what I want, it’s what the students want. And, if any students want to look at any current issues, they can look at all of them on my Facebook page.
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For more information on Rob's campaign, check out the Facebook group "Elsaid for SGA President."