Students elect Slattery DSG prez

By Ashley Dean
Published April 4th 2007 in Duke Chronicle
Junior Paul Slattery was elected 2007-2008 Duke Student Government president Tuesday night after winning over half of the votes cast by students.

"I'm ecstatic that I'll have the opportunity to improve this place," Slattery said. He said he has already scheduled meetings with administrators and campus groups and is eager to set priorities for the upcoming year.

Slattery, who is currently DSG chief of staff, received 55.45 percent of the 2,467 votes submitted in the presidential race. Junior Kristin Pfeiffer and sophomore Andrew Tutt finished second and third, respectively.

Sophomore Jordan Giordano, junior Gina Ireland, sophomore Sunny Kantha, junior Genevieve Cody and freshman Lucy McKinstry were elected executive vice president, vice president for academic affairs, vice president for athletics and campus services, vice president for community interaction and vice president for student affairs, respectively.

Only the position of vice president for academic affairs required a runoff this year. DSG bylaws state that a runoff is needed if no candidate receives a majority of all votes cast in their race.

"In the first round of calculating the vote, only the first-place votes are counted," Fleming said.

In the runoff, the lowest-finishing candidate in the race is dropped and the votes for that student are redistributed to the top two candidates.

Like last year, voters were asked to rank their choices for each position. This allowed the software to conduct an instant runoff in order to prevent the problems that marred the 2005-2006 elections, when a runoff lasted six days.

In the initial race, junior Gina Ireland received 43.03 percent of the votes and sophomore Natalie Barber received 31.31 percent. In the runoff, junior Joshua Kazdin was eliminated and Ireland won with 59.61 percent of the votes to Barber's 40.38 percent.

Winners of the five other races received enough votes to render runoffs unnecessary.

Slattery said he is satisfied overall with the students elected to work with him next year. Current President Elliott Wolf, a junior, noted that he believes the Executive Board will be very strong.

Wolf said that the winners are a good mix of students who are currently active in DSG and newcomers to the organization. He added that he is pleased that three of the vice presidents are female.

"I think [the new officers] are in a position to pave their own way and continue the success we had this year," Wolf said.

This year's voting turnout marked a dramatic decrease from last year's, when 3,479 students submitted their ballots for the presidential race.

DSG Attorney General George Fleming, a senior, said this year's turnout is not unprecedented.

"Since 2000, the turnout for DSG Executive Elections has ranged from a low of 36 percent to a high of 57 percent, and today's turnout of 40 percent lies in between those," he said.

Last year was the highest turnout in recent years, with 52.4 percent of the student body voting. Slattery said he thought turnout last year may have been higher because there were five candidates vying for the position of president.

Fleming said women's basketball coach Gail Goestenkors' decision to leave Duke for the University of Texas and the death of junior Chris Sanders may have negatively affected this year's voter turnout, as the events coincided with the elections.