The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Cadet, college student…city council member?

photo by Tanner Garza Political science junior Gabriel Pereira is the first student to run for City Council since 2010.   

The ballot for this November’s general election will contain a unique entry: a Texas A&M student.
Gabriel Pereira, political science junior, is running for College Station City Council. While a student running for the spot is unusual, Pereira meets all the requirements to be eligible to run and hopes to bring a fresh perspective.
A student has not been elected to the city council since 2010, when 22-year-old Jesse Fields served as the youngest person elected to the position in College Station history. A citizen must meet three requirements to run — candidates must be at least 18 years of age, have lived in Texas for at least a year and in the district for more than six months.
Pereira said if elected he wants to emphasize student-city relationships and he seeks to bring a louder voice to what he calls one of the city’s major tax bases — A&M students. He said students are a driving force in the local economy and do not use the services many local community members consume, resulting in revenue for the city.
“I saw that there wasn’t any consistent representation of students as taxpayers, or even any opinion of students as taxpayers,” Pereira said. “From a student perspective, it’s more about student representation, but from a mature standpoint it has to do with us being a large tax base and driving the economy through our purchases.”
College Station recently moved the city council elections from May to November in order to coincide with the general midterm elections and conserve funds. Pereira said this opens the elections to more students who would not normally be in College Station for the May elections.
A major part of Pereira’s campaign involves encouraging students to register to vote by the Oct. 6 deadline. Pereira’s team is trying to reach out various student organizations to ensure as many students as possible are registered.
College Station Mayor Nancy Berry said while she has reservations about the ability of a student to serve on the city council, a dedicated individual could be successful.
“I think it’s very difficult for a student to be successful on city council because of the time requirements,” Berry said. “It’s probably 20 to 30 hours a week, plus meetings during the days and evenings. I don’t think a student’s schedule is really conducive for a city councilperson. If the person is willing to put in the time and is serious about being prepared for the meetings and reading the material, I don’t see why they couldn’t be successful.”
While he emphasizes his role as a representative of the younger members of the community, Pereira said he feels he can balance those interests with those of established community members.
“When people think of students, they think of several negative connotations, a lot of which have contributed to the ordinances that exist or the view that a lot of the more vocal members of the community have,” Pereira said. “We’re students, but we are also empathetic to the issues that face the city from the perspective of an established member of the community.”
Pereira said he wants to make sure he stresses his role as both a student as well a member of the community, something he feels previous student candidates chose not to highlight in their campaigns.
“Even Jesse Fields, the most recent student to run and be elected to city council, didn’t really run with an emphasis on students, which is something I like to do — run as a member of the community, but run with the understanding that I am a student and that student representation is important here in College Station,” Pereira said.

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