CalSERVE candidates secured all but one partisan executive position in this year’s ASUC elections.
The crowd that gathered in 155 Dwinelle Hall to watch the results erupted in deafening cheers as CalSERVE not only picked up three executive seats but also obtained seven seats in the ASUC Senate Thursday night. Student Action retained nine seats, and SQUELCH! candidates took two senate seats, with one independent one additional third-party candidate also being elected.
This year’s election drew a record number of voters, with 15,430 people participating — significantly larger than last year’s turnout of 12,600.
“As soon as the tabulation hit, everyone was telling me ‘you got it, you got it, you got it’, and I was like just ‘wait’ … As soon as that bar went up, all I could think about was the last three years of me being here at Cal and how everything has been so instrumentally placed,” said DeeJay Pepito, who won the presidency, in the aftermath of the results.
CalSERVE candidates Pepito, Nolan Pack and Valerie Jameson took the positions of president, executive vice president and academic affairs vice president, respectively. Student Action candidate Safeena Mecklai won the external affairs vice president position, and Timofey Semenov — an independent endorsed by both Student Action and CalSERVE — took the position of Student Advocate.
“You know you run with a group of people who I’ve literally spent every single day for months and months with, so it’s really heartbreaking to see them not with me because they worked equally as hard as I did, and they deserve it more than anything,” Mecklai said. “I’m excited, nervous, I can’t believe it’s real. I’m stoked — in a really sad way.”
Four propositions — the Class Pass Renewal, the Fossil Fuel Divestment Referendum, the People’s Rights Referendum and the Constitutional Amendment to Improve the ASUC Advocacy Lobby — passed. Results of the health and wellness referendum are pending Judicial Council review.
This is the first time since the 2008-09 academic year that CalSERVE — a progressive coalition party founded in 1984 — has held a majority of executive positions.
“I hope that that drive for positive change will overcome partisanship and no matter the party make-up of the Senate or Executives, lead to a productive, cooperative, and successful year,” Mecklai said in an email before tabulations. “I’m so thankful for the support, words of encouragement, and excited smiles of my peers and friends.”
Nanxi Liu, executive vice president from the Student Action party during the last divided executive slate in 2010-11, said she found that working across party lines made executives more effective and accountable to one other.
“We questioned each others’ work, which encouraged us to think very carefully and diligently about the programs we worked on in our individual offices,” Liu said in an email. “There was also a competitive spirit between the exec offices to do more or do better than the other party’s offices.”
In the senate, CalSERVE secured seven seats, the largest number of seats the party has held since the 2009-10 academic year and one more than its current number.
The CalSERVE senate seats went to Destiny Iwuoma, Justin Kong, Briana Mullen, Wendy Pacheco, Caitlin Quinn, Sevly Snguon and Sean Tan.
“We ran a clean, positive campaign rooted in shared values,” Pack said in an email. “We promoted ambitious and attainable ideas that will improve the student experience at (UC Berkeley), and we presented a bold new vision for the ASUC and the campus.”
Still, Student Action will continue to hold significant sway in the senate, as it has in recent years, with its nine seats to be occupied by candidates Courtney Chow, Katherine Chung, Karen Lee, Sahil Pandya, Liza Raffi, Quinn Z. Shen, Pavan Upadhyayula, Lauren Week and Eric Wu.
Whimsical third-party SQUELCH!, which switched campaign tactics this election season and ran an all-serious senate slate for the first time, secured two seats on the senate with Grant Fineman and Emily Truax. They will be joined by one independent senator, Naweed Mohabbat, and Solomon Nwoche of the newly created Independent Campaign for Common Sense party.
“I think (Pepito is) extremely qualified to be president,” said Jason Bellet, the SQUELCH! presidential candidate. “I have so much love for this school and so much love for everyone involved in the ASUC and all the individuals who put countless hours into this race. No matter what, I think everyone in this room has the same goal in mind: to create the most effective and productive ASUC as possible.”
CalSERVE elections coordinator Anais LaVoie attributed the party’s success this election season to ethical, strategic and values-based campaigns.
“Our strategy was simple: run more candidates to grow the coalition, spend more time training them to be competent campaigners but even more effective elected officials and make the campus believe that CalSERVE is relevant and capable of fulfilling a more influential role in the ASUC,” LaVoie said in an email.
Staff writer Libby Rainey contributed to this report.
Ally Rondoni covers student government. Contact her at [email protected].