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At the ASI presidential debate on Thursday in the University Union, the blue shirts were out in full force – bright blue for Anne Giapapas, light blue for Todd Maki – as the presidential candidates answered questions about transportation, sustainability and why they would make a good president.

Current ASI President Tylor Middlestadt opened the event by saying that “it’s really important that everyone understands” the responsibilities of the ASI president as a person who represents the students and knows how they feel about issues. Audience members were allowed to write down questions that would be given to the candidates throughout the debate.

A coin toss determined that Maki would answer first and the issue of transportation was discussed immediately. Both Maki and Giapapas showed concern for the recent termination of the campus’ Safe Ride services and for students abandoned on campus late at night.

For Giapapas, the “Blue Light” emergency phones on campus just don’t cut it.

“I’m a female; I get worried,” she said. “I want to know that I can rely on a safe service to get me home.”

She also noted that San Luis Obispo has a higher number of drunk-in-public citations than both Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Maki told the audience he has already begun research to find a Safe Ride alternative that other major universities use in order to create “a program that won’t fail in the future.”

This past year, Maki chaired a committee that conducted a survey of 500 students regarding the SLO Transit. He said the committee determined that it is inconvenient for students, who make up about 70 percent of SLO Transit riders, to not be able to rely on a bus system which stops running before classes end.

Likewise, Giapapas said that with gas prices averaging $3.27 per gallon, the buses need to accommodate students by extending their hours.

When asked about sustainability, Maki said he has been working with sustainability groups on campus, while Giapapas has talked with downtown businesses about recycling.

“(There are) recycling bins on campus ” why can’t we get them downtown?” she said.

Giapapas discussed her experience holding jobs both on and off campus, as well as her role as a Recreation Administration Majors Club leader, a San Luis Obispo High School freshmen girl’s volleyball coach and a mentor in the San Luis Obispo Juvenile Hall.

“I’m not involved in politics,” she said bluntly of her lack of experience in ASI, but is using that to her advantage by deeming herself “a fresh face.”

“I’ve always been more of a leader than a follower,” she said. “When people have problems, they come to me – I want to give students a voice.”

Maki, on the other hand, focused on a background more centralized within Cal Poly. He has served on the ASI board of directors for the last three years as well as the Engineering Student Council that developed the new Cal Poly Portal and has brought wireless Internet to the more remote areas of campus.

“I believe it’s the next step,” he said. “I can use the trust and the relationships (I already have). The trust is already there – the respect is established.”

He added that the first six months of the presidency is typically spent building relationships.

“It’s not what you know, but who you know,” he said.

The candidates also touched on student involvement in ASI activities and campus clubs, as well as where students’ money goes. Students should be able to see the effects of their money through the opportunities available to them, they said, but to do so, students need to get involved in these opportunities and they encouraged the students in the audience to vote next week.

“ASI affects you directly, you should want to vote,” Giapapas said. “People should want to know who’s running and why they’re running – start now. Every vote does count.”

“Being involved is the most important thing,” Maki added, noting that 50 percent of the country votes while only 17 percent of the campus votes.

“That’s pathetic,” he said.

Meanwhile, across the UU, an arm wrestling event sponsored by Greek Week was stealing audience members.

“It didn’t seem like a lot of people were listening (to the debate),” said Andrew Allport, a mechanical engineering sophomore. “I was watching the arm wrestling.”

Even if not all of the student body witnessed the debate, Middlestadt thought it went smoothly.

“It’s tough with other events,” he said. “But everybody walks by and (hopefully) gets to see one candidate answer one question – Both painted a picture for what kind of leader they’re going to be – both have very clear differences.”

He said the most apparent difference is the candidates’ experience with student government; one platform is a new face whereas the other wants to continue the work being done.

Voting will take place May 3 and 4 at booths throughout campus.

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