In their second election go-around under new leadership, FORUM is looking to focus on empowerment over politics.

Earlier this month, FORUM nominated Public Policy junior Carly Manes as the party’s candidate for CSG president and LSA junior Pavitra Abraham for CSG vice president. Since their selection, Manes and Abraham have been laying the groundwork for the March 26 to 27 elections and said they see themselves as student activists, not politicians.

“It’s about empowerment, not politics,” Manes said.

“This isn’t political. It’s about doing what’s best by the student body,” Abraham added.

Manes’ involvement in student government began her freshman year, serving as an elected representative in LSA Student Government during her freshman and sophomore years. She is currently an LSA representative in the CSG Assembly.

Outside of her involvement in student government, Manes is the founder of Students for Choice, a campus organization dedicated to advocating for reproductive rights.

Also serving as an LSA representative in the CSG Assembly, Abraham is in the midst of her first year working in student government. She was appointed in October after a seat was vacated and ran a successful campaign in the December midterm elections.

Despite being relatively new to the group, Abraham has extensive campaign experience. She served as a field organizer for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election bid and took her sophomore fall semester off to work for the campaign. When she returned to classes last winter, Abraham helped organize FORUM’s 2013 campaign.

Abraham said she is able to bring her practical experience from working on the Obama campaign to the world of student government.

“My tactical skills are my ability to take everything I learned during that campaign at a grassroots level and bring it to student government,” she said.

Manes and Abraham met on the Obama campaign, as Manes was one of the students Abraham coordinated with. Since then, they have worked alongside one another in the CSG Assembly.

During their tenure as representatives, Manes and Abraham organized retreats for CSG representatives, which are held each semester and last three to four hours each. The events aim help foster a collaborative atmosphere within student government.

Transparency is a one of FORUM’s main platform points, Manes said. Abraham added that the two hope to increase communication between CSG representatives and their respective schools.

In early February, Manes said one of her campaign goals is to add a student representative to the University’s Board of Regents. The board currently holds eight representatives who were all popularly elected by the voters of the state of Michigan.

“It is a disservice to students to not have a student voice in the room when such prominent decisions are being made about where our money is going, what our campus life is going to look like,” Manes said.

Abraham said she hopes to systemize voter registration efforts to increase active student voting turnout in local and national elections.

“Right now, there is no centralized way for students on this campus to register to vote and really engage themselves in the political process,” she said.

The candidates said they are meeting with upwards of five student organizations per day to find out what their needs are and the challenges that they face. FORUM hopes to work with these organizations as well to spread the party’s message and campaign goals.

“All students feel empowered through student government and can use student government as a platform for empowerment to elevate the work they are already doing in their community,” Manes said.

Manes and Abraham are also trying to distance the current FORUM leadership from last year’s nominees and marred election. FORUM’s previous nominee for CSG president, now-LSA senior Chris Osborn, won the popular vote but was later disqualified by the University Election Commission for allegedly influencing students while they were voting.

Manes said FORUM’s controversial history is irrelevant to this year’s campaign. Instead of dwelling on the past election, Manes said student should focus on her qualifications and goals for CSG.

“It’s really important to look at the current executives, what they’ve accomplished, what they haven’t accomplished and looking at the track records and the motives of why the people running are in the race,” she said.

Manes and Abraham bring a variety of experiences to FORUM’s ticket. Abraham said she and Manes compliment each other with their different skill sets.

“She’s the visionary, and I’m the executioner,” Abraham said.

Correction appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly said Abraham has worked on voter registration for CSG elections. Additionally, the party FORUM was written as forUM.

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