Student Action sweeps all 4 partisan executive seats, gains senate majority

Rachael Garner/Senior Staff

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ASUC executive and senate hopefuls, accompanied by hundreds of supporters, flooded the Arthur Andersen Auditorium in the Haas School of Business on Friday evening to learn the results of the 2016-17 ASUC elections.

For the first time since 2012, Student Action swept all four partisan executive seats and gathered a majority in the ASUC Senate. Student Action is one of two historically dominant campus political parties. This year saw a complete turnaround from last year, when CalSERVE, Student Action’s primary rival party, swept all four partisan executive seats.

Will Morrow, Alicia Lau, Andre Luu and Frances McGinley won the president, executive vice president, external affairs vice president and academic affairs vice president positions, respectively. Selina Lao, an independent candidate, won the fifth executive seat, which has remained nonpartisan in recent years.

This year, 12,559 students voted, slightly fewer than the 12,693 who voted in last year’s elections.

“If you run a campaign that’s positive and puts students first and that acknowledges that we aren’t perfect and have a lot to learn, students respond to that,” Morrow said. “Now we have a big responsibility ahead of us — we can’t let these students down.”

The ASUC employs a ranked-choice voting system — in the senate race, after a candidate receives a certain quota of votes, any other votes they receive are redistributed among other candidates individuals ranked after.

After redistribution, Sheena Paul, CalSERVE’s presidential candidate and runner up, won 2,965 votes, about 32 percent of the votes dispersed among the five presidential candidates, as compared with the 4,798 votes that Morrow received. Andrea Rose, the human proxy for SQUELCH!’s satirical presidential candidate Kira the Husky, came in third, winning 988 votes, or about 11 percent.

Independent presidential candidate James Bacon and Michael Cortez-Meijia, who is affiliated with the Defend Affirmative Action Party, won 344 and 274 votes, respectively.

Cortez-Meijia was listed as independent on the ballot because of DAAP’s failure to file an online endorsement form and party filing fee. Because of this, DAAP candidates filed a lawsuit March 30 against the university and the ASUC alleging violations of freedom of speech, free association and equal protection.

After learning elections results, CalSERVE party members congregated for its traditional “Unity Circle” just outside of the building where tabulations were held.

“It is a bittersweet night,” said Chris Yamas, CalSERVE senator-elect. “There are key communities that won’t have a seat at the table because of the way things went tonight. I’m nervous about this year, and I hope that I can be an effective ally for those communities in the senate.”

The current partisan executive seats are filled entirely by CalSERVE candidates, which the party highlighted as the first executive slate filled entirely by women of color. CalSERVE, which stands for Cal Students for Equal Rights and a Valid Education, aims to represent underrepresented minorities such as the black and LGBT communities.

Student Action executive officers-elect Lau, Luu and McGinley, shed joyful tears as other spectators cheered and chanted as results were revealed. After redistribution, Lau and Luu came out more than 1,000 votes ahead of their respective second-place opponents — CalSERVE candidates Wes Adrianson and Boomer Vicente, while McGinley won against CalSERVE candidate Kathy Tran by 881 votes. DAAP executive candidates Thomas Moore, Aarefah Mosavi and Nancy Murillo each gathered approximately 500 votes.   

“When I walked into that room, I was kind of paralyzed,” McGinley said. “It was like everything — the last seven or eight months of my life, I dedicated every waking moment to this — it was all sort of coming down to this three minutes of time that is tabulations.”

Following the ceremony, Student Action candidates and party supporters gathered on Faculty Glade to debrief the evening’s events. Party chair and vice party chair Raffi Margossian and Dayna Tran congratulated all of the candidates for their work throughout the campaign season.

Student Action ran one more executive candidate than last year, when it did not run a candidate for AAVP. Student Action traditionally represents engineering, Greek and Jewish communities.

Student Action won 10 positions on the 20-person senate, the first time since 2012 that any party has held such a large voting bloc. These were won by Xiao Li, Miranda Hernandez, Jay Choi, Wesley Wan, Monsoon Pabrai, Nathan Kelleher, Bianca Filart, Ian Bullitt, Annie Tran and Helen Yuan.

“No matter win or lose, I was the luckiest man in that room because I had so many friends in there who supported me,” Wan said.

Currently, Student Action holds seven senate seats. CalSERVE secured seven senate seats at the election, one less than it holds this year. CalSERVE senator-elects include Yamas, Rigel Robinson, Zaynab AbdulQadir, Rosa Kwak, Benyamin Mohd Yusof, Alyssa Liu and Jenny Kim.

Middle Eastern Muslim Sikh and South Asian Coalition-backed candidate Alaa Aissi will be the only independent ASUC senator. SQUELCH! ran three serious senate candidates, two of whom — Anthony Carrasco and Guillermo Perez — won seats. SQUELCH! began in the 1990s as a satirical party, but in recent years, it has consistently run serious senate candidates and maintained presence in the senate.

DAAP ran candidates for all five executive positions, four of whom also ran simultaneously for senate seats, as well as eight solely senate candidates, but the party did not win any seats. In past elections, DAAP has run candidates vying for more than one position to maximize its chance of winning any ASUC position.

Contact Suhauna Hussain and Ariel Hayat at [email protected].