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Baron, Leito tickets advance to runoff

Amanda Michaels | Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Judicial council president Brin Anderson announced privately to the candidates for student body president that the tickets of Dave Baron-Lizzi Shappell and James Leito-Jordan Bongiovanni would advance to Thursday’s runoff election at a meeting 10:15 p.m. Monday.With 1,333 votes, or 31.8 percent of the total, junior Baron and sophomore Shappell edged out juniors Leito and Bongiovanni, who had 1,074 votes, or 25.6 percent. Abstentions made up 2.6 percent of votes. A total of 4,186 Notre Dame students voted, constituting a 51 percent turnout rate – 8.5 percent higher than last year’s election. “We’re very pleased with the turnout results,” Anderson said. “We worked very hard to garner more support from students by holding debates in a more accessible place, passing out flyers, reminding students to vote and setting up a voting booth in LaFortune.”Though the polls closed at 8 p.m. Monday, a reported campaign violation forced the Executive Committee of the Election Committee of the Judicial Council to hold a hearing to assess the violation and whether sanctions should be levied before the results could be officially announced.Anderson explained that a message supporting the Baron-Shappell ticket was sent to the Alliance-ND/GSA [Gay-Straight Alliance] ListServ by AllianceND president Mac Russell at 11:54 p.m. Sunday. Though e-mails alone are permissible forms of campaigning, Article 17, Section 1 of the student union constitution details that ListServ messages are not. The constitution later specifies that candidates may be held responsible for the conduct of their supporters.Though the Election Committee, made up of delegates for each of the 27 dorms, found merit to the allegation, and the six-member Executive Committee ruled that the ticket was guilty of the violation, no sanctions were assessed.”[The Executive Committee] decided no sanction was appropriate because it is difficult for candidates to control people that they didn’t know were sending out e-mails on their behalf,” Anderson said.Shappell confirmed that neither she nor Baron were involved in the ListServ message, and said that Baron does not know Russell, and that she only knows him “casually” and spoke to him only once about the election, during a campaigning dorm visit. “Neither Dave nor I were aware that the e-mail had been sent until we were informed of the infraction,” she said. Anderson said she sent a message to the Office of Information Technology to be forwarded to all ListServ owners, letting them know that they cannot use the ListServ as an avenue for campaigning.Baron-Shappell secured the plurality of votes by winning 11 dorms and the off-campus votes – including their respective home turfs of Morrissey and Badin. Leito-Bongiovanni won 10 dorms, including the loyalty of their own dorms, Siegfried and Cavanaugh. The Craig Brede-Vijay Ramanan, Alec White-Erik Powers and Mark Healy-Bob Costa tickets shared the remainder of the dorm victories. Both advancing tickets said that while they’re relieved by Monday’s results, they expect a tough three days ahead, as the four candidates who have worked closely together in student government clash.”The results are great, but we’re ready to go again. We’ve got three more days, and less than 300 votes isn’t a margin of confidence,” Baron said.Leito – vice president on Charlie Ebersol’s ticket that made it to the runoff in last year’s election – agreed.”It’s always exciting to make it past the general election, but this is going to be a tough one,” he said.They all said they plan to stick to their tried and true campaign strategies, focusing mainly on the grassroots effort to build support, especially since none of the losing tickets chose to give either of the tickets their endorsements. Candidates pointed toward their common experience and passion as kindling for what they expect to be a heated sprint to the finish.”Voters are going to get a great show,” Bongiovanni said with a smile.