SGA elects new executive board for 2008-2009

By Timothy Bearden

The Student Government Association elections have been held and the results are in. Voting for the senators ended on May 2 and the executive board nominees were voted on on May 6.

The new senators have already taken over as of May 6, but the executive board won’t officially be in charge until June 1. The new senate convened on May 6 to vote on their leaders for next semester.

Jody Warner / The Chronicle

Jenna Dillion, the Dance Department senator, looks on as she awaits vote tallies for the executive vice president run-off election in the hub at the 1104 Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave. She was nominated for president, executive vice president and also ran for vice president of Communications and Finance.

Adam Werlinger was nominated for seats on the executive board, but did not participate in the elections as a candidate because he was chosen to be the student representative to the board of trustees, which is also an executive board position.

The position is not voted on by the senate, but rather chosen by the trustees themselves. Qualifications are the same as an elected executive board member, but he or she must also fill out an application and interview with the trustees. Werlinger is the third student to be appointed to the position.

Jessica Valerio won the presidential election, Zach Dexter won the executive vice president seat, Rachel Irving will take over as vice president of Communications and Kelli Van Antwerp will fill the vice president of Finance slot.

The new senators to the SGA were Joshua Copeland, Kevin Gonsztola, Ryan Niemuth; Joseph Keiner, Michael Lencioni, John Trierweiler, Joseph Willis and Renaldo “Ray” Ramdeem.

The SGA also has a few returning departmental senators for next year: Chelsea Johnson, Jenna Dillon, Adrian Polk and Rebecca Silvermintz.

The returning at-large senators are Sarah Cunniff and Rachel Stapinski.

Three at-large and two departmental senator positions opened up as a result of the elections.

Dominic Cottone, director of Student Organizations and Leadership and the faculty adviser to the SGA, said he is eager to see the new executive board in action.

“The first thing that stood out to me was the students who were elected to the SGA board for next year were the senators who really worked as much as they possibly could,” Cottone said. “… The ones who are putting in the time and effort are the ones who will really lead the executive board for the SGA to success. So I’m excited to see the new group come in and I’m really glad they’re the ones who [are] getting involved.”

Brian Matos, the president of the SGA, said he is also excited for the new executive board and feels things will carry on after he’s gone.

“It’s going to be great,” Matos said. “Everybody who ran [is] well qualified … dedicated, passionate, hard-working and just great examples of Columbia students from all the different majors they represented.”

The way the elections worked was each candidate was given two minutes to convince the senate what made them qualified for the position. After the candidates delivered their speeches, the senate was then allowed two questions to each candidate with a minute response to each question given by each candidate.

According to the election guidelines, the initial round of voting requires a candidate to win by a 50 percent consensus. Those who do not achieve the 50 percent are then sent into what the SGA calls a “run-off” in which another round of voting occurs and the person with the most votes wins.

Those who lose one or both elections are then offered a chance to run for the remaining executive board positions, which is called “cascading elections.”

According to Cottone, during a run-off candidates do not answer questions or deliver any speeches.

Run-offs of the evening were for executive vice president, vice president of Communications and vice president of Finance. In each run-off the candidates were seperated by four votes or less. All the candidates participated in the cascading process.

Valerio won the presidential seat with exactly 50 percent of the vote.

“I’m really honored and humbled my peers put me in this position,” Valerio said.

The new executive board will be introduced to their positions by those who currently occupy the positions.