Pickard prevails in TCU presidential election

Giovanni Russonello // Published April 24, 2008 in The Tufts Daily
Sophomore Duncan Pickard won the Tufts Community Union (TCU) presidency yesterday, capping a campaign in which he touted his leadership skills and vision for a more unified student body.

"We're going to make some big and important changes on this campus that are really going to improve the lives of students for years to come," Pickard told the Daily shortly after the results came in early this morning.

The former TCU parliamentarian beat Senators C.J. Mourning and Elton Sykes by significant margins.

In the vote, students could choose first and second choices; Pickard won 42 percent of first-choice ballots, Mourning took 32 percent and Sykes netted 26 percent.

Since no candidate won a majority, Sykes was eliminated after coming in last place, and second-choice ballots were factored in for an instant runoff. In this so-called "post-rank" vote, Pickard came away with 56 percent to Mourning's 44 percent.

Pickard said he was eager to work with the Senate's many members next year.

"It's a time full of so much optimism for next year," Pickard said. "Throughout this campaign, all three of us [candidates] really came up with some really powerful ideas, and I can't wait to work with everyone on Senate next year to ... improve the Tufts campus."

Yesterday's voting, which was all done online, was delayed for nine hours after a corrupted computer file from the Student Services WebCenter kept students from accessing their ballots.

"The cause was the file that we generate to coordinate valid voters with Votenet [Tufts' third-party electronic voting platform] became corrupted on our end. This problem did not allow voters to make a seamless jump to Votenet," Andrew Sonnenschein, the associate director of information technology at Student Services, told the Elections Commission (ECOM) in an e-mail.

Mourning, a sophomore, said she was ready to bounce back from the defeat to play an active role on Senate in the future. "I'll be able to do a lot of great things on Senate next year," she said. "It was a great campaign, and I know that next year I'll be able to do great work with Senate ... I know I'll be really involved."

She said she will leave her post as Services Committee chair and hopes to be on the Executive Board next year. "It'd be great to be on exec next year, and that's where I see myself," she said. "I'd like to be vice president, but we'll see with the way things work out on Sunday night." The Senate will hold in-house elections on Sunday, when it will select the members of the Executive Board and Allocations Board as well as committee chairs.

Sykes, a junior, declined to discuss his future role on Senate. "I don't know about my role on the Senate next year, I'm not even thinking about that." he said.

"I think that we ran a good campaign. I got my word out there as best as I possibly could. I told people what I wanted to change and the ideas that I have for next year ... and they just didn't agree with me. So I just have to live with that and just move on from there," Sykes said.

Thirty-nine percent of eligible undergraduates, 2,025 students, voted in yesterday's election. This marked a slight downturn from last year's 45 percent. ECOM Chair Anjali Nirmalan, a junior, said the small dip was "not surprising, considering we lost nine hours."

The ballot yesterday featured a referendum on three amendments, but the result was not released because freshman Christopher Snyder, who is also a copy editor for the Daily, appealed the referendum, citing technical concerns.

Two of the amendments sought to adjust the process by which a student organization can acquire a community representative Senate seat, which allows the group to send a spokesperson to the body as a voting member.

Under current rules, the student body must vote to grant an organization a community representative. The first amendment sought to allow the Senate to conduct this vote internally. The second aimed to change the process by which groups have their community representatives re-approved.

The third amendment sought to add a historian position to ECOM, which Nirmalan said was "under-staffed."