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Two tickets face off in SMC race

Kelly Meehan | Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Annie Davis-Courtney Kennedy ticket was the first eliminated Tuesday from the three-way race for the helm of Saint Mary’s student government.

While that pair clinched 24 percent of the vote, the Colleen Ferreira-Jenny Antonelli and Kim Hodges-Kelly Payne tickets are competing in the runoff election that began at 12:01 this morning and will end at 11:59 tonight. Percentages will not come into play during the runoff calculations – meaning the pair with the most votes wins.

With approximately 35 percent of the student body voting, Ferreira-Antonelli received 38.3 percent of the vote – a mere 1.9 percent more than Hodges-Payne, at 36.4 percent. The narrow lead, candidates said, makes the opportunity to campaign for the runoff more valuable than ever.

“I’m optimistic that we’ll get more voters,” Hodges said. “I think our biggest draw is the open forum meetings where students will be able to voice concerns, comments and what’s in their hearts.”

While Hodges and Payne announced their promises and catered to voters with free cookies outside Noble Family Dining Hall Tuesday, Ferreira-Antonelli did not let their lead overlook the need to continue their campaign.

“[Being the top vote-getters] makes us feel that we are communicating well to the student body about the changes we want to make,” Ferreira said. “We may have had the top turnout in the votes, but tomorrow is a completely new vote.”

That vote, Hodges believes, will have students reconsidering their previous election decisions.

“I think some of the votes were loyalty votes to friends,” she said. “[While] the principles of the [Ferreira-Antonelli] platform are in line with ours, those who didn’t vote yesterday would have a voice by electing our ticket.”

While both tickets build on the ideas of increased diversity and continuation of College traditions, Ferreira believes her platform contains goals -such as campus-wide wireless Internet – that “can be accomplished” in her term.

“It’s not going to take five years,” she said.

Regardless of the competition, Payne said she is “extremely excited.”

“It shows that the student body is ready for a change and our goals are attainable,” she said. “We’re here to work for them.”

While the road to presidency continues for Ferreira-Antonelli and Hodges-Payne, Davis and Kennedy still have a strong desire to serve Saint Mary’s, Davis said.

Davis, who called the results a “huge disappointment,” said she encourages students to vote for the Hodges-Payne ticket in today’s election.

She said she believes “they deserve it more than [Ferreira-Antonelli] because they are more dedicated to Saint Mary’s.”

Davis and Kennedy both said they wished they had further pursued an appeal they sent to the elections appeal board during their campaign.

Kennedy said the two attended the Dec. 12, 2006 mandatory election meeting unopposed, but the Hodges-Payne and Ferreira-Antonelli tickets were permitted to run despite their failure to attend the campaign forum.

Student body president Susan McIlduff said although the tickets did not attend the meeting, they were allowed to run because they explained their absence and subsequently attended a follow-up election meeting after winter break.

McIlduff said elections commissioner Christin Molnar maintains the executive right to hold additional campaign meetings to increase the number of tickets in any given election.

“I think all in all, the more competition the better,” she said. “Having more than one ticket allows [more voices to be] heard, and people are elected because they have earned it.”

Should Hodges and Payne win the election, Davis and Kennedy said they would consider serving on their board, but neither has yet decided their particular future involvement in student government.

Molnar did not return Observer phone calls Tuesday night.

Liz Harter contributed to this article.