University Politics

Barillari: Curtis makes correct choice in appointing Alampi to chief of staff

It was like déjà vu when Student Association President Allie Curtis announced PJ Alampi, her top opponent for the presidency, as her chief of staff for the 57th Session.

Just more than a year ago, Dylan Lustig, Curtis’ predecessor, nominated his campaign rival Taylor Carr to the same position Alampi now holds. But by April of last year, Carr resigned from his post due to frustrations with the organization’s then-leadership.

Curtis admits many have been skeptical about her choice for the position given Carr and Lustig’s experience, but argues the dynamic is different. Where she and Alampi have a history of friendship that has sustained the election, Carr and Lustig were consistently at odds.

Nominating Carr to chief of staff was a risk Lustig took to try and unite the divided camps that had resulted from the rivals’ dueling campaigns. This was also a seemingly wise move at the time for the sake of keeping an ambitious member highly involved in the organization.

Though Curtis had similar motives for making her competitor the chief of staff, her reasoning exceeds Lustig’s. For Curtis, it would have been a risk not to take Alampi as chief.

The two president-and-chief pairs contrast drastically in their working relationships. Various factors make a fundamental difference in why the nomination of Carr came with possibilities of discontent and why Curtis’ choice of Alampi will be met with absolute success.

Alampi’s allegiance to SA in the past allows for the wise assumption he will carry out the entirety of his term. Curtis and Alampi, now juniors at Syracuse University, joined SA their freshman year as assembly representatives. Since that time, Alampi has risen through the ranks of SA and held two prominent positions including the internally focused Board of Elections and Membership chair during the 55th Session and the externally oriented Student Life Committee chair under Lustig.

In doing his job of facilitating cabinet meetings and aiding the entirety of the staff, Alampi’s experience in assorted and long-standing roles allows him to be a resource to all facets of SA.

Though Carr was an ambitious leader, an asset to SA and a student who truly wanted to better SU for his peers, he did not have the same diverse leadership history as Alampi. He did not show quite the same loyalty, as he left the organization to join the Residence Hall Association before rejoining the student government.

When Carr broke the news of his resignation to me last April, he said his main role as chief of staff was to advise the president and vice president on the initiatives they were working on. He told me then that nothing was progressing, making him unable to do his job.

This session, it seems the chief role has been more defined and refocused on the entirety of the staff itself, and not only an adviser to the two highest-ranking members.

This is an extremely beneficial change that Alampi is taking the fullest advantage of, as it allows him more opportunities to work with all members of the organization and gives him the ability to orchestrate his own initiatives. He is taking it upon himself to make regular meetings with Curtis and working with her to unite the assembly and cabinet, which rightfully include members of both respective campaigns.

Alampi admits becoming an asset to Curtis is a difficult transition from competing against her. He faces the personal challenge of not being in the spotlight he desired tremendously, but said that does not change his continuing ambition to make change at SU.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about looking at the pattern,” Curtis said about comparing her chief of staff appointment to Lustig’s. “It’s looking much deeper than that.”

Rachael Barillari is the editorial editor and a junior political science and Middle Eastern studies major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at rebarill@syr.edu and followed on Twitter at @R_Barillari.

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