Gates McGavick, Corey Gayheart elected student body president, vice president
Benjamin Padanilam | Monday, February 26, 2018
The 2018 campaign for student body president and vice president ended Sunday afternoon, as Judicial Council announced juniors Gates McGavick and Corey Gayheart as the winner’s of this year’s election.
McGavick and Gayheart were up against two other tickets at the start of the campaign: juniors Alex Kruszewski and Julia Dunbar and Zahm freshmen Andrew Gannon and Mark Moran. However, after the primary election concluded Feb. 7 and the votes were tallied, a runoff was required between the McGavick-Gayheart and Kruszewski-Dunbar tickets. The runoff election took place Friday.
“We’re just so thankful to our supporters,” McGavick said. “And yeah, we ran to reform student government — looking forward to doing that — and we’re just really thankful for everyone who got out and voted. It was really hard for our campaign the whole way through; happy it’s over, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Throughout this year’s election campaign, there were five instances in which Judicial Council’s Election Committee handed down sanctions against one of the tickets — the McGavick-Gayheart ticket was sanctioned three times, while the Kruszewski-Dunbar ticket was sanctioned twice.
The first sanction came Jan. 25, prior to the announcement of the tickets. The McGavick-Gayheart ticket was found to have petitioned for signatures directly after class periods and received a five-hour suspension of campaigning as a result, though the suspension was reduced to two hours upon appeal.
The second sanction came Feb. 1 and required the Kruszewski-Dunbar ticket to rewrite the “Decrease Tuition” page of its platform in order to clarify any statements construed as endorsements from University departments, offices or officials. The ticket’s appeal was not heard because student senate did not meet quorum, which is a requirement that two-thirds of the group’s voting members must be present for it to hear and vote on the appeals.
The third sanction was announced Feb. 6 and required the McGavick-Gayheart ticket to issue a public apology for an action taken by one of its supporters.
The fourth sanction was announced Feb. 7, as Judicial Council’s Election Committee announced the Kruszewski-Dunbar ticket “was found to engage in unethical behavior and instruct others to engage in unethical behavior by means of text messages.” As a result, the ticket forfeited 10 percent of the votes cast for it in both the primary and runoff elections, and the decision was upheld upon appeal.
The fifth and final sanction came the morning of the runoff election, as it was announced that the McGavick-Gayheart ticket “was found to have supporters releasing confidential information from previous Judicial Council allegation hearings, as well as engaging in a continued pattern of unethical behavior.” As a result, the ticket forfeited 12 percent of the votes cast in the runoff election, and the ticket’s appeal of the decision was not heard because student senate failed to meet quorum for a second time.
With the reductions, 402 student votes cast — 11.19 percent of the total valid votes cast — in Friday’s runoff election did not count towards the percentages after sanctions. The turnout rate in this year’s election was 47 percent, down 11 percent from last year.
The McGavick-Gayheart ticket received 2,126 votes or 59.19 percent of the valid, or non-abstention, votes cast, but 255.12 of those votes were taken away after the 12 percent sanction was imposed. As a result, the ticket ended with 1,870.88 votes according to Judicial Council’s breakdown, or 52.08 percent of the valid votes.
After winning the election, both McGavick and Gayheart described the process as exhausting and said they hope to improve it during their term for future candidates and voters.
“The process regulations, I think, have just left a lot of people in the dark about what’s been going on,” McGavick said. “We’re looking forward to more transparency no matter how this next year goes.”
“Honestly, this campaigning process was extremely negative for both sides, and it was just extremely taxing emotionally, physically [and] academically,” Gayheart said. “We hope to be able to work with Julia and Alex moving forward, but also … we have to make sure that we make improvements to this process, because this has been bad on all ends.”
The Kruszewski-Dunbar ticket, on the other hand, received 1,466 votes, or 40.81 percent of the valid votes, prior to the enforcement of the 10 percent sanction. Judicial Council then took away 147 votes to bring the ticket’s final vote count to 1,319, or 36.73 percent of the valid votes cast.
In a statement emailed to The Observer, the Kruszewski-Dunbar ticket also thanked its supporters for their work during the campaign.
“We would like to thank our team and our supporters,” the ticket said. “They were phenomenal throughout the entire process, and we could not be happier with the work they did and the vision they believed in.”
McGavick and Gayheart will take office as student body president and vice president on April 1.