Beato running for Williamsburg govt
March 14, 2008
__Students make up 14 percent of registered voters__
“Absolutely. I mean, absolutely.”
p. That was the reply from former Student Assembly Senate Chair Matt Beato ’09 when asked if he thinks he can get elected to the Williamsburg City Council. Beato announced his candidacy over spring break and resigned from his position in the SA to focus on his campaign; Sen. Walter McClean ’09 was elected Tuesday to serve as chair in the interim until the SA elections.
p. “I believe the City Council needs to have someone … who understands the issues of young people,” he said. “I don’t think a government is effective if it has citizens from only one area of the community.”
p. **A Viable Student Candidate**
Beato’s run for City Council marks the first time a student has run for the position since all students at the College have been allowed to register to vote. David Sievers ’07 ran for the position two years ago and lost by 154 votes. Today, various voter drives on campus have registered over 1,000 students, making College students approximately 14 percent of registered voters. According to SA President Zach Pilchen ’09, a new voter drive expects to register another 700 students in the coming weeks. If successful, students will make up approximately 22 percent of registered voters.
p. “Anyone who is registered to vote in the city of Williamsburg has the right to run for political office,” Williamsburg Mayor Jeanne Zeidler said. “I have never been opposed to a student running for City Council.”
p. Although Pilchen is happy to see astudent run for office, he warned that students should be careful when voting.
p. “I think a lot of people in Williamsburg would be pretty mistaken to believe that students at the College are just going to blindly vote for any student who happens to be running for student council,” he said.
p. Zeidler objected to the distinction between students and Williamsburg residents.
p. “A member of City Council should be responsive to all constituencies,” she said.
p. Beato says he feels he has the concerns of all Williamsburg in mind.
p. “I have an obligation to the people in the community — off campus and on campus, students and non-students, wealthy businessmen and low-income workers — to try and affect change in the city,” he said.
p. Pilchen will not play a role in the campaign.
p. “I don’t think it’s appropriate at all for someone in my position to be active in a campaign,” Pilchen said. “My focus has always been on registering students to vote and, through doing that, leveraging their political power in the city of Williamsburg.”
p. Beato agreed.
p. “I don’t want there to be any perception of there being any sort of illicit intermingling or anything like that,” he said.
p. In an e-mail to the senate, Beato added that he will ask many student representatives to assist in his campaign, although not in an official capacity.
p. “Many of you are my closest friends and I will ask you to help me in that regard,” he said. “But I will not ask you to do anything in your official position for me.”
p. SA Vice President Valerie Hopkins ’09 sent an e-mail to the senate lamenting Beato’s resignation.
p. “I think we can all agree that our beloved Chairman’s impending resignation is a bittersweet one,” she said. “It is indubitably a dark day for the Senate, but losing him for the coming four weeks is a burden we all must shoulder collectively to further our quest for One Williamsburg.”
p. **Beato On the Issues**
Beato’s democratic experience in Williamsburg began when he visited the College. After reading an article in The Flat Hat about the SA, Beato was hooked.
p. “I thought that, were I to go to William and Mary, I might be a member [of the SA], even if I couldn’t get elected,” he wrote in the e-mail to the SA. “The fact that I wound up chairing that body is beyond my wildest dreams.”
p. Beato attended both student government meetings and meetings for the City Council, Neighborhood Council and Planning Commission. During the summer of 2006, Beato had his first run-in with what is now one of his campaign issues: the “three-person” rule that prohibits more than three unrelated people from living in a Williamsburg house together.
p. “I moved into an off-campus apartment with four other people. As we all knew, this could cause problems because of city ordinances, and it eventually did, leaving me with no place to live,” he said. “I had to sleep in the SA office in the Campus Center.” Eventually, James Evans ’07 let him sleep at the Alpha Epsilon Pi lodge.
p. Other issues for Beato include affordable housing for low-income families, businesses leaving the city for James City and York counties and accessibility of the city government to students. Another is the recent Harrison Avenue house the Williamsburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority bought and transformed from a rental.