Kelley wins close general election

By Beko Binder
Published March 2nd 2007 in Rice Thresher
Brown College junior Laura Kelley edged out her opposition for Student Association President in this year’s SA general elections. Hanszen College junior Stephen Rooke came in second place, and Martel College junior Andrew Chifari and Martel senior Gillian Serby took third on a split ticket.

After write-in candidates and Chifari and Serby were eliminated from the running, Kelley had 432 first-place votes (52 percent), and Rooke had 399 (48 percent). However, before preferential elimination was processed, Rooke had 362 first-place votes, Kelley had 338, and Chifari and Serby had 203. Write-in candidate Chris Warrington, a Jones College sophomore, received five first-place votes, and absentee write-in candidate Bryce Gray, a Jones sophomore, had two votes.

The preferential voting system is designed to ensure candidates win by majority. In each round of calculations, the candidate with the lowest number of first-place votes is eliminated, and his or her supporters’ votes are given to their second choices.

Voter turnout continued a downward trend this year — 914 votes were cast for SA president, compared to 961 last year, 1,162 in 2005 and 944 in 2004.

Lovett College sophomore Sarah Baker won an uncontested race to become SA external vice president, Brown sophomore Matt Youn beat two opponents for SA internal vice president and Brown freshman Cristina Garcia beat one opponent to become SA secretary. Martel College sophomore Matt Feaga won an uncontested race for SA treasurer.

One Honor Council amendment passed, which reworded the constitution to reflect the new online Honor Code affirmation procedure.

As president, Kelley said she wants to make sure the Faculty Senate follows through on their promise of making online course evaluation responses available to students. (See story, Page 1.)

She also said she wants to focus on adjusting campus meal plans, dealing with new construction on campus and pushing for renewable energy at the colleges. Kelley has also pushed the idea of having an SA retreat, and she said she plans to hold it before the end of the year.

“The retreat will be open to all students,” Kelley said. “I will publish minutes online so I can get input on [all issues] from everyone. People who don’t have time to attend can comment on the minutes.”

Rooke said the election committee could have handled the voting process more efficiently.

“I received a call at 3 p.m. telling me I had won,” he said, “I was called back later, told the results had been read wrong and that they needed to do a recount. Three hours later, I called them back and they told me I had lost.”

Rooke said the SA will need to prove itself in the coming year.

“I hope that Laura takes this opportunity to recognize the importance of the SA and makes it a priority of hers to strengthen it, and give it voice and turn it into an organization that benefits the student body,” Rooke said.

Chifari said he is not sure whether he will remain involved the SA. Rooke said he plans to to remain outspoken and stay involved in the organization.

Serby and current SA president Althea Tupper could not be reached for comment.