The three Associated Student Body presidential candidates — Leah Davis, Tom Fowlkes and Barron Mayfield — addressed their histories and gaps within ASB service ahead of tomorrow’s election.
All three candidates are juniors who have had different experiences within ASB in their three years at Ole Miss.
Fowlkes, a public policy leadership and accounting major from Memphis, is the only presidential candidate not currently serving in ASB. Following last spring’s general election, President Elam Miller selected Fowlkes to serve as the executive liaison in his Cabinet.
However, Fowlkes was demoted to Senate liaison then removed from the Cabinet altogether in the middle of last semester.
“After he had reached the maximum number of absences allowed as Senate liaison, I had no option but to remove him from his position on ASB,” Miller’s chief of staff Julia Grant said.
Fowlkes said his exit from the Cabinet was not “anybody’s decision,” and he referred to the process of his departure from ASB as a “fluid, open” conversation. He also said the reason for his absences was a required accountancy class with the honors college.
“I couldn’t come to the Cabinet meetings, which was a really integral part, and so I ended up not being able to keep up that job,” Fowlkes said.
Cabinet meeting minutes from last fall count Fowlkes present for at least two meetings that semester.
Davis, a psychology major from Tupelo, was also selected to serve on Miller’s Cabinet as co-director for inclusion and cross-cultural engagement.
Davis is the only presidential candidate who has never held an elected position in ASB. In addition to being appointed to serve as co-director for inclusion and cross-cultural engagement at the end of her freshman year, she was selected to be co-director of the Elections Reform Task Force in the fall of 2018.
“All of my positions I’ve been appointed (to), but I think I’ve done just as much work as any other elected official,” Davis said.
Mayfield, a public policy leadership major from Lubbock, is currently a senator representing special interests and serves as president pro tempore, meaning he presides over the Senate in the absence of the vice president. Mayfield is also the chairperson of the rules committee, which reviews and votes on legislation before it is brought to the Senate floor.
“Getting to lead the Senate was really, really cool,” Mayfield said. “Getting to encourage all of these people in what they were doing and what they wanted to pursue, I found a lot of value in that and felt as though I was really good at it.”
Mayfield has voted with the majority on all 18 votes that have taken place in the ASB Senate this school year and not offered many dissenting opinions of potential legislation.
“I don’t know what (my voting record) says about my ability to influence people,” Mayfield said. “We tend to not bring up super out-there legislation, which I personally would have liked to see more of.”
While the entirety of his experience is in the legislative branch, Mayfield said he chose to run for president instead of vice president because he wants to hold a leadership position that is not confined to the ASB Senate.
Davis and Fowlkes were both members of the Freshman Council, on which they learned about student leadership and the inner workings of ASB.
Davis also served on the mental health committee during her freshman year, helping plan Mental Health Week on campus.
Mayfield applied to be a part of ASB his freshman year but was not offered any of the freshman positions.
“I didn’t get it, and so for a while, I had given up on ASB,” Mayfield said. “I felt like it was because I didn’t know anyone when I got here, and I know other people have expressed that same sentiment to me.”
ASB has since created Freshman Connect, a program to guarantee that any freshman who wants to be involved in student government will be given the opportunity to do so in some capacity.
Fowlkes served in the 2017-2018 Senate as a representative for the Interfraternity Council, and last spring, Mayfield ran for and won an open Senate seat that had been vacated earlier in the year.
“We, as a senate, that semester, didn’t get a lot done,” said Mayfield, who was placed on the academics committee in 2018.
Fowlkes served as the vice chair for inclusion and cross-cultural engagement that year and said he worked with Davis on “a failed endeavor” to create a Battle of the Bands event.