Candidate disqualifications plague SGA election
In an election dogged with few eligible executive candidates and several notable disqualifications, many executive incumbents within the Student Government Association sailed through either their re-election or appointment to other leadership positions.
Per an amendment to the SGA’s bylaws, this election was the first to no longer require that presidential candidates and their running mates previously hold posts in the organization – with the stipulation that new candidates must undergo mandatory orientation meetings by the SGA’s Election Commission.
Candidates that met the constitutional requirements for office but missed orientation meetings or the candidate debate were automatically disqualified. Others withdrew their names voluntarily.
In total, nine candidates, including the only non-SGA ticket for the presidency and executive vice presidency, either withdrew or were disqualified, according to Amy Gregg, chair of the election commission.
Five of the seven top SGA posts were filled by now-sitting SGA leaders, including President-elect Marcus Kernizan and Executive Vice President-elect Taylor Briggs.
Briggs says that she was excited when she first learned there were other candidates that had initially qualified to run against her ticket but their dismissal did not impact how she or Kernizan campaigned.
“I was really excited to be running against someone for EVP, because at the top there are less candidates and it is not unusual to run unopposed,” Briggs said. “That didn’t turn out to be the case but we ran our campaign the same way because we still have to win the approval of the students.”
However, both those previously in power and those newly elected said the most recent election served as a referendum on what issues needed to be addressed by the SGA.
While Kernizan served as the vice president of academic affairs on the SGA executive board, Briggs served as key figure in the senate as the head senator from the College of Arts and Sciences.
As executive vice president, Briggs said she would prioritize issues students brought to her attention for resolution.
“I put out several prongs of my platform, and the ones that students react to and want to talk about I plan to put to the top of the list,” Briggs said. “So instead of solely pushing my own agenda, through this term I hope to continue to sort through ideas and find the ones that matter most to students and champion those,” she said.
The current vice president of budget and finance, Theo Muhumuza, was elected for the first time since his appointment to the position earlier this semester following the resignation of the past VP, Paul Marmol, at the end of last semester.
Danielle Kleinman, the president pro-tempore of the senate, was elected as the next vice president of public relations. During its next session, the new senate will elect a president pro temp to replace Kleinman.
Vice President of Public Relations, Jarrell Abrams, will also receive a spot on next year’s executive board as the new VP of student life, replacing Ben Williams – whom decided not to seek re-election.
Per the SGA constitution, President James Dutton was ineligible to run for a third term as president, which he previously ran for unopposed, but sought and won a position as a College of Law senator.
Of the newly elected vice presidents, only Adriana Macchione, the vice president-elect of academic affairs, and Christian Hill, the vice president-elect of student services, have yet to hold a leadership position in the SGA – nor any experience in the senate, either.
However, Hill said he looks forward to working with the other newly elected SGA members to carry out the platform he was elected on.
“As the next Vice President of Student Services, I vow to do all that is within the legitimate authority of the Vice President of Student Services to, not only carry out my platform, but also to adequately represent the will of the constituent body that I have been so passionately elected to represent,“ he said.
SGA E-board winners:
President: Marcus Kernizan (unopposed)
Executive Vice President: Taylor Briggs (unopposed)
VP for Academic Affairs: Adriana Macchione (unopposed)
VP for Budget & Finance: Theo Muhumuza
VP for Public Relations: Danielle Kleinman
VP for Student Life: Jarell Abrams (unopposed)
VP for Student Services: Christian Hill (unopposed)