Election results reshape council

Sarah Jo // Published May 9, 2008 in The Daily Bruin
After a year as the Undergraduate Students Association Council’s slate minority and witnessing a resignation of one of its members, Students First! took command of next year’s council, changing the table’s makeup drastically.

Seven Students First! candidates were elected to council on Thursday night, including the coveted presidential position, indicating a slate overhaul.

Bruins United saw its majority of eight councilmembers from this year dwindle to two. Four independents will also join the 13-member council.

Current independent Campus Events Commissioner Colin Iberti said the student body chose a drastic swing in representation.

“Voters have changed the regime,” Iberti said.

This year’s turnout remained the same as last year. Elections Board Chair Kyle Kleckner said 7,293 eligible students voted in this year’s election.

The 29.93 percent voter-turnout rate was slightly below 2007’s 30.94 percent, according to Daily Bruin archives.

Students First! gained a significant number of seats on council, but several of the contests were won by slim margins.

Evan Shulman of Students First! beat Lydia Kim of Bruins United by a 3.3 percent margin to win the internal vice president position.

The presidential election consisted of a runoff between Matt Sandler of Bruins United and Homaira Hosseini of Students First! after independent candidate Jeff Matt was eliminated in the initial round.

After Matt’s elimination and the redistribution of his votes according to the instant-runoff voting system, Hosseini maintained her lead over Sandler and won by a comfortable margin.

Kleckner said the student turnout in front of Kerckhoff Hall was on par with last year’s.

Current External Vice President Jesse Melgar – who won the same spot for next year – said he believes more could be done to increase voter turnout.

Melgar ran unopposed. He was the only independent candidate who received endorsements from both slates. He said he is proud to have received the endorsements of two slates that have been competitive in the past.

“It is going to be exciting to push issues like affordability and accessibility that both slates will support,” he said.

Slate politics will be hard to ignore: the seven Students First! councilmembers outnumber the two new Bruins United general representatives.

Iberti said it is dangerous for a slate to be a majority on council.

“The new Students First! majority has evolved from their defeat but is now responsible in proving to the students that the students made the right choice,” Iberti said. “There have always been partisan issues, and one group feels left out.”

Iberti said the slate majority shift may have been an indication of changed student opinion.

“The campus did not see enough tangible, real change from Bruins United,” Iberti said.

Rick Tuttle, administrative alternate, said he is looking forward to seeing how the new councilmembers will attack their responsibilities as leaders on campus.

“All the new councilmembers seem excited to execute power,” Tuttle said. “However, the substance of these students has yet to be determined.”

Tuttle said the addition of Hosseini as the next president may bring a new perspective to the table because the current chair of the Student Fee Advisory Committee has the feel for how student fees are spent.

“She can pull together strings from all over and really fight hard for students,” he said.