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Brown, Braun elected new student leaders

Sonia Rao | Monday, February 19, 2007

After a drawn-out election process, a decision on who will be next year’s student body president and vice president was reached Sunday.

Student body presidential candidate Liz Brown and vice presidential candidate Maris Braun defeated Danny Smith and Ashley Weiss by a 15-13 vote Sunday night in a closed Student Senate meeting. Brown and Braun will assume their positions April 1.

Because neither Brown and Braun nor contenders Smith and Weiss received the 50 percent plus one of the student vote required to seal the election in the run-off, the Student Union Constitution required the decision to be made in a closed meeting of the Student Senate, said Judicial Council president Liz Kozlow.

“Each senator is mandated by the Constitution to follow the plurality of their dorm, which means they must vote according to the majority vote in their dorm,” Kozlow said. Only in the event of a tie within a dorm will a senator be able to vote freely, she said.

Each senator received an envelope with the voting breakdown of his or her dorm directly before the Senate meeting vote took place. Four senators were not present for the formal vote, but none of the four had ties within their dorms and therefore their absence did not affect the outcome, Kozlow said.

McGlinn and O’Neill were the only two dorms with a tied vote, and both senators voted for Smith and Weiss.

Even those swing votes, however, were not enough for Smith and Weiss to pull away with the presidency.

“It happens,” Smith said following the decision. “I’m just going to take a step back, start focusing a little bit on school again and see what comes my way.”

Brown said she felt “a little bit shocked and overwhelmed” after the results were announced.

“It was a long meeting and it’s been a long process,” she said.

Resorting to a Student Senate meeting to determine a president is “not something that people are hoping for,” Kozlow said.

“[The meeting] was a tense and difficult environment,” she said. “It’s not ideal. We would have all liked it to end after the run-off vote.”

A contributing factor to that “tense” environment is the fact that senators may strongly support one candidate but be required to vote a different way.

“[Senators] must follow their constituents,” Kozlow said. “No one wanted it to end like this [a Senate vote]. We didn’t feel great.”

Brown said there was a concerted effort to make sure correct protocol was followed.

“I think everyone wanted to make sure that the procedure for voting was correct and accurate so that it was done as professionally and accurately as possible,” she said. “There wasn’t a lot of antagonism. I just think that everyone was just in a little bit of high stress and wanting to make sure it was done right.”

Though this process is unpleasant, it is also rare.

“The only time I know of [an election being determined by Student Senate] is three years ago,” Kozlow said. “That’s the only time I can think of. It’s a huge deal.”

Kozlow was referring to the 2004 election, when the Senate elected Adam Istvan and Karla Bell in a 15-13 vote over opposing ticket Charlie Ebersol and James Leito.

Now that the election process is finally over, Brown and Braun will be able to take a breather before assuming their roles as leaders of the student body.

Brown, speaking for an absent Braun, said they hope to “hit the ground running on our initiatives,” and that both she and Braun are “definitely excited” about the decision.

“I think we’re all just happy it’s over,” she said.