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Baron, Shappell win runoff election

Justin Tardiff | Friday, February 11, 2005

Junior Dave Baron and sophomore Lizzi Shappell were officially named next year’s student body president and vice president after they won Thursday’s runoff election by a slim yet sufficient margin of 235 votes.

With a total of 4,287 votes cast – 52.7 percent of the student body, and 101 more than Monday’s primary – the Baron-Shappell ticket secured 2,152 votes and 52.88 percent of the total, while their opponents, juniors James Leito and Jordan Bongiovanni, tallied 1,917 and 47.11 percent. 218 students chose to abstain, but because of a recent constitutional amendment aimed at ensuring a majority win in the runoff and avoiding a threefold election like last year’s, these votes were not included in the final percentage calculations.

Baron swept the freshman, junior and senior classes, but Leito edged him out in sophomore votes by a mere six votes.

The race in the dorms was just as tight, with a six-vote or fewer margin of victory in five of them. Baron and Shappell took 15 dorms – including their home bases of Morrissey and Badin – and the off-campus vote, leaving 12 halls for Leito-Bongiovanni, with their own show of loyalty from Siegfried and Cavanaugh.

Though rendered speechless for a brief minute after the announcement, Baron rushed to attribute the victory to his tenacious campaigners after he regained his voice.

“We had a ton of great people with us who just gave 180 percent,” he said. “It was a grassroots campaign all the way, and that’s the only way we came out like this.”

Leito, expressing a mix of sadness, disappointment and “happiness, believe it or not,” nevertheless said he wouldn’t have changed the ticket’s campaigning tactics.

“The stuff we could have done differently, we wouldn’t have done to win,” he said.

Bongiovanni agreed, asserting her confidence in the campaign their ticket ran but declining to guess what swung the 235 votes in the other direction.

“I can’t speak for the student body, because whatever the reason, the student body already spoke tonight,” she said.

After taking a moment to “let it sink in,” as Shappell said, the president-elect and vice president-elect turned their vision to the future.

“I was proud that we got some of these issues out during the campaign and debates,” Baron said. “But I’m so much more excited now that we get to implement them.”

The pair said they will draw up a calendar of what issues they plan to take on when and will post it in the office when they take over on April 1 in what they projected will be “a seamless transition.”

Baron, currently the chief executive assistant for student body president Adam Istvan and vice president Karla Bell, said he would be a bridge between the two administrations. Baron said he and Shappell will carry on the fight for the diversity issues outlined in the February Board of Trustees report and work to put into practice the solutions that are planned to be proposed in the April BOT report.

“Our entire year will be ‘part three’ of this series of reports, moving on to the implementation phase,” Baron said.

“Concern over the diversity problem at Notre Dame will be as much a part of our upcoming administration as it is of the current administration,” Shappell added.

Baron also said they will start writing letters to prominent speakers in preparation for their promised Catholic Think Tank of America lecture series. Among other things, he said they will begin to work toward securing the concert endowment.

Looking visibly relieved and slightly shocked, Baron and Shappell embraced after the initial tumult of the announcement blew over.

“Well, we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Baron said with a smile.