By Angelica Sisson
Elections for the Executive Board of the Student Government Association were held on Wednesday. Kristina Pinault and Lauren Werling were elected President and Vice President by a thirty vote margin after launching a write-in campaign less than two days before the election.
“I’m honestly still in shock from the fact that we managed to pull off a successful write-in campaign for SGA in under forty-eight hours,” said Roisin Gibbons, sophomore Social Work major, on Wednesday night just after learning of Pinault and Werling’s win. “I am so proud of everyone that helped out and I am so blessed to be part of such a successful campaign with some amazing campaigns.”
The first ticket on the ballot was Brent Behringer, a sophomore Mechanical Engineering major, and Sean Calabria, a sophomore Politics major. The second was Andrew Elder, sophomore Politics major, and Mason Thibault, freshman Politics major. Stephen Morris and Kately Javier, both junior Politics majors, originally made up the third ticket but they dropped out a day before the elections were held.
Upon dropping out, Morris and Javier endorsed Pinault and Werling.
“While we were disappointed that we were unfairly denied the opportunity to stand before the voters, we truly could not be more thrilled at the outcome of the election,” Morris and Javier said.
“For those concerned about our hesitancy, uncertainty, lack of interest, and lack of passion [we] want you to know we are the opposite of those negative attacks,” Werling said on the Facebook page for their campaign. “We did not jump in the race months or even weeks ago because at that time there was no major fault and void in the candidates on your ballot.”
On Monday, two days before the election, Pinault was supposed to moderate a debate between the candidates but objections and scheduling issues caused it to be cancelled. The debate was originally sponsored by the Student Life Committee which Pinault is the chairwoman of. It was then decided the Student Life Committee should not be involved with the debate after James Benedek, who sits ex officio on the committee, publicly endorsed a candidate and was asked not to participate in the event.
Control passed to the Pre-Law Society, of which Pinault is also on the executive board. The Tower and WCUA radio also event. A few days before the debate, Morris and Javier learned they were ineligible for the candidacy and the Behringer-Calabria ticket backed out of the debate, leading it to be cancelled.
“My hope was that all the tickets would have confirmed pretty quickly and then we could have done mass publication through student org pages and their campaign pages. Then all this delay happened between Steve and Kately suddenly hearing [they were ineligible] and Brent and Sean backing out so we didn’t have the publicity blitz we wanted,” Pinault said.
“I was hoping for students to just get exposed this was something all the candidates had talked about wanting in the planning stages,” Pinault said regarding her hopes for the debate.
Pinault also said that in future elections the Student Government Association should make it a rule that candidates have their eligibility checked earlier on in the campaigns to prevent what happened to Morris and Javier from happening again.
Last year, voting for the election took place on The Nest. Students were able to log on at any computer and submit their ballot. Many students complained of being uncomfortable because candidates brought laptops or iPads to their dorms or approached them in the Edward J. Pryzbyla Center dining rooms and asked them to log onto The Nest to vote.
The voting for this year’s election year took place on the third floor of the Edward J. Pryzbyla Center. Each student was emailed a unique link that led to his or her ballot and only the computers on the third floor designated for voting could access this link.
Anne St. Amant, current Student Government Association president and chairperson of the Board of Elections said that this new voting method was a reaction to the objections that had been raised.
“There were many complaints last year and we did not want a candidate’s election to the Executive branch to be questioned because of the process,” St. Amant said. “We also did not have enough people to monitor that rules of the election were being upheld, so we believe this is the best solution.”
There was a turnout of over seven hundred students which is less than last year’s thirteen hundred. St. Amant said lines formed during peak hours in the Pryz, but people only had to wait five minutes or so before their turn to vote.
“I’m very happy with the 700 number, The Board of Elections was just hoping for something past the 600 mark, so we are satisfied!” St. Amant said.
Abby Zirzow and Maddy Quidzinski were elected secretary and treasurer of Student Government Association respectively.
“We’re really happy and completely surprised,” said Pinault, after learning she and Werling had won. “But this really was the culmination of the work of really dedicated people who are ready for both change and dedication and hard work and I couldn’t have been more proud of the people who worked with us and shared our stuff and you know it was a team effort by no means was a one woman show although I’m ready for some ladies to run this.”