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The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Whirlwind of accusations ends as committee tosses out all charges

Brian Donovan, vice president of legislative affairs-elect, hugs student Roxy Cappelini after all charges were dropped at the May 4 Election Committee meeting. (Photo by Courtney Johnson/The Inquirer 2010)

The latest chapter in the recent student government elections ended May 4 with the Elections Committee voting to drop all charges against three Progressive Democratic Students candidates, including its unanimous decision of the previous week that the three were guilty of one Elections Code violation.

At a tension-filled meeting, the committee split down the middle, one member voting to drop all charges, one voting to uphold them and two abstaining.

That left the final decision up to committee chair Ben Pradya, who can only vote in the case of a stalemate.

“I do believe that candidates should be held accountable for their actions,” Pradya said. “However, I do believe that the Elections Code was also not well written.”

Pradya said his mind was swayed by an email from Bill Oye, dean of student life and co-adviser to the ASDVC. He then read the e-mail aloud into the minutes of the meeting.

Although Oye didn’t tell the committee how to vote, he recommended some revisions to the Elections Code, including a rewrite of section 7.04, the section upon which the main violations against PDS were based.

“It goes somewhat against common sense to hold a candidate responsible for the behavior of a non-candidate,” Oye wrote, “unless it can be clearly proven that they were made aware of the behavior in advance and were in support of the behavior.”   

The charges were brought to the committee by current activities coordinator Adrian Briones, who lost the contest for webmaster to the PDS candidate. His complaints focused on Donovan, vice president of legislative affairs-elect, as well as Francisco Hinajosa and Nick Holmes, who lost for the positions of president and vice president of executive affairs respectively.

At issue was a leaflet handed out during the student government election by Frank Runninghorse, a DVC student and member of Students for a Democratic Society, to which both Donovan and Holmes belong.

In the flier, Runninghorse endorsed the PDS coalition while criticizing the opposing UAID slate, specifically Briones and President-elect Katerina Schreck.

In a moment of high drama, all of the PDS candidates, their supporters and Runninghorse jumped to their feet and broke into applause when Pradya announced all charges were being dropped.

During the meeting, Briones, continued to defend his reasons, saying the three candidates should be held accountable to the code as it is written now, even if it is to be revised.

“We cannot let people continuously violate [the Elections Code] and have no repercussions,” he said.  

Had the Elections Committee decided against dropping all charges, Donovan, who won the election for vice president of legislative affairs, could have been removed from office, although Pradya said this outcome was unlikely.

“I have a right to free speech, that’s guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution,” Runninghorse said. “Yes, there was a crime committed during the election process, but it was Adrian bringing charges, trying to suppress free speech and democracy.”

The Election Committee was also set to discuss charges brought by PDS campaign manager Keith Montes against the UAID coalition (Uniting ASDVC, the Inter Club Council and DVC) – the slate Briones ran with – but Montes decided to drop his charges.

“In the spirit of what happened here today,” Montes said, “I will, in like, drop my charges.”


Contact Ariel Messman-Rucker at [email protected]

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Ariel Messman-Rucker, Staff member
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Whirlwind of accusations ends as committee tosses out all charges