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Freshmen win SMC elections

Katie Kohler | Friday, September 22, 2006

Camille Gebert and Rebecca Meade dominated the Saint Mary’s student government elections for freshman president and vice president Wednesday, winning 50.8 percent of the vote and avoiding a runoff by collecting the 50 percent-plus-one vote necessary to win.

It is uncommon for one ticket to win the majority in the preliminary election, but this year Gebert and Meade were able to secure an overwhelming amount of votes early.

“I was very surprised with the results because everyone running was more than qualified for the position,” Gebert said.

Christin Molnar, Board of Governance elections commissioner, was also surprised by the early majority win.

“It is quite unusual to not have a runoff election when you have more than a few tickets running … and with five tickets, I was surprised to have a winner in the first election,” Molnar said.

Leslie Youngdahl and Katie O’Brien won 23.2 percent of the votes. Brianna Ryan and Natalie Bui came in third with 14.6 percent of the votes. Hilary Petcoff and Kathleen Collins and Jennie Hiatt and Lauren Kominkiewicz split the remainder of the votes.

185 students voted – equivalent to 43.1 percent of the freshman class.

The Board of Governance made changes to the voting process, which made Molnar wary about overall turnout. Students were originally scheduled to vote online via PRISM, but the system was switched to paper ballots near election time.

“I was concerned that we would have less voters due to the last-minute change to paper ballots,” Molnar said. “It was wonderful that over 43 percent of the class voted.”

The voter turnout gave Molnar confidence in the freshmen and their desire to participate at Saint Mary’s.

“The women of the Class of 2010 clearly care a lot about their leaders, and that is a great sign for the future,” she said. “I think that all of the candidates were enthusiastic and campaigned hard, which definitely urged their classmates to vote.

“Overall, I was just extremely pleased with the election.”

Gebert and Meade have many ideas for the Class of 2010, such as themed events, apparel, spirit weeks and planning activities between Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame and Holy Cross.

“We are hoping this will bring more school spirit and pride to our class,” Meade said.

Both Gebert and Meade have prior experience in student government and hope to use that knowledge to lead the freshman class.

“I decided to run [for president] because I love being involved,” Gebert said. “I love the responsibility my position entails.”

Gebert and Meade campaigned rigorously for the past two weeks with signs, posters and going out of their way to meet other first year students.

“What I think set us apart was that we went door to door to first years in every dorm to remind them when voting was,” Meade said.

While not all participants in elections concede gracefully, runners up Leslie Youngdahl and Katie O’Brien are already showing their support for the victors.

“I think that Gebert and Meade are very personable, motivated girls who are ready for the tasks at hand as president and vice president,” Youngdahl said.

“They have a lot of good ideas for the Class of 2010 and will do a great job representing the freshman women.”

Now that the presidential elections are over, there are still 13 positions to fill on the First Year Board. Platforms are due Monday at 5 p.m.

Youngdahl and O’Brien are already planning to be a part of student government in other ways. Youngdahl plans to run for freshman board to stay involved at Saint Mary’s.

“I am enthusiastic and ready to help wherever I am needed,” she said.

O’Brien also plans to run for the board, based on her past experience in high school.

“I love Saint Mary’s and I love being involved,” she said. “I know this year is going to have some great leaders.”