Student Action wins 3 of 4 partisan executive seats in 2018 ASUC elections

Student Action clinches majority of seats in ASUC Senate

Joshua Jordan/Senior Staff

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Student Action won three out of four partisan executive seats and reclaimed the presidential seat from CalSERVE in the 2018 ASUC general election, as announced at Friday’s tabulations ceremony.

Student Action’s Alexander Wilfert won president; Student Action’s Hung Huynh won executive vice president, or EVP; CalSERVE’s Nuha Khalfay won external affairs vice president, or EAVP; Student Action’s Melany Amarikwa won academic affairs vice president, or AAVP; and independent Sophie Bandarkar won student advocate.

The night’s results mark a major victory for Student Action, which won all the executive seats it campaigned for, and a tough loss for CalSERVE, with only Khalfay managing to secure a spot in the executive office. 

“I’m feeling really, really good,” said Wilfert as supporters hugged him after the final results were announced. “I’m proud that Student Action (has) a solid message: We’re here for every student, we just seek to really make a difference on this campus, and clearly that message resonated with people.”

Wilfert, a current ASUC senator, earned 52 percent of presidential vote. He ran on platforms to improve campus safety, increase access to basic needs such as student housing and restructure the ASUC to more effectively reach out to and serve students.

Last year’s executive branch was a bipartisan one, with each of the major ASUC parties capturing two partisan seats each. In 2016 and 2015, respectively, Student Action and CalSERVE swept all partisan executive seats.

Wilfert beat CalSERVE presidential challenger Juniperangelica Cordova, an ASUC senator who received 42 percent of the presidential vote. Defend Affirmative Action Party, or DAAP, presidential candidate Stephanie Gutierrez received about 6 percent of the presidential votes. For the second year in a row, no independent candidate actively ran for president.

As dozens of audience members cheered and screamed in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union’s Pauley Ballroom with the final announcement of results, CalSERVE members quickly moved to the building’s rooftop patio to form a healing circle and reflect on their campaigns. Despite the disappointing results, members kept their spirits up about the important work their elected candidates could achieve next year.

CalSERVE is “going against an institution that wasn’t built for us,” said party co-chair Romario Conrado. “We’re still with our communities; we’re still going to be with our people. Our organizing is just going to be different.”

For EVP, Huynh won 3,935 votes, defeating independent candidate Derek Topper, who received 1,708 votes. CalSERVE’s sole executive winner, Khalfay, won 3,910 votes for EAVP, besting Topper, who also ran for the position and is a former Daily Californian distribution analyst.

In what was the most competitive partisan executive race aside from the presidential one, Amarikwa defeated CalSERVE’s Rizza Estacio for AAVP, winning about 55 percent of votes cast for the position. With 3,044 votes, Bandarkar beat her sole challenger, DAAP candidate Casey Leeds.

“I came into this thinking we were the underdogs,” said Amarikwa, adding that she had decided to run later in the election season than usual. “Adjusting to what it means to be a candidate and what it means to be a public official and take people’s critiques and turn them into action — I’m excited.”

Karen Chow/Staff

Karen Chow/Staff

About 11,706 students voted this year — an increase of about 17 percent from 2017 when 10,020 students voted, but still less than the 2016 ASUC elections, when 12,559 students voted.

Student Action’s executive slate victory extended into the senate race Friday night. Eleven out of 14 Student Action candidates won: Zach Carter, Isabella Chow, Justin Greenwald, Saakshi Goel, Nikhil Harish, James Li, Amma Sarkodee-Adoo, Karina Sun, Andy Theocharous, William Wang and Anne Zepecki. The party secured one more senate seat than it did in the 2017 election.

Three out of seven CalSERVE candidates won: Teddy Lake, Idalys Vanessa Pérez and Amir Wright. The results are in line with an ongoing downward trend in seats captured by the party since 2015 — last year, CalSERVE won five senate seats, and in 2016, the party won seven seats.

“I’m excited for the CalSERVE senate candidates we did get in,” said outgoing ASUC president Zaynab AbdulQadir-Morris. “We ran a small slate to be very intentional that each of them is very passionate.”

Almost a third of next year’s senate will be made up of independent representatives. Six of the 12 independent candidates on the ballot won seats this year: Nick Araujo, Imran Khan, Regina Kim, Aaron Bryce Lee, Anna Whitney, and Furry Boi (a “squirrel” whose proxy is Stephen Boyle).


Joshua Jordan/Senior Staff

Independent campaigns continue to pick up steam in ASUC general elections. Last year, independents won four senate seats last year, and just two years ago, only one independent candidate captured a senate seat. DAAP did not manage to win any position in the ASUC this year.

“I’m proud of all the students for voting, and also for my community for mobilizing together and making sure that we have a voice,” said independent Khan, who was endorsed by the Middle Eastern Muslim Sikh and South Asian community. “But I want to make sure that we’ve healed from this process because it’s been damaging all across the board.”

Both referendums on the ballot passed. With 5,216 “yes” votes and 3,790 “no” votes, the Student Transformation through Academic Recruitment and Retention, or STARR, referendum will charge undergraduate students $26.50 per semester to fund the bridges Multicultural Resource Center. The Enrollment Clarification Act, which clarifies ASUC membership in the student government’s constitution, passed with 93 percent of the vote.

“I want to thank everyone who worked on the Student Action campaign,” Wilfert said. “Everyone who believed in me, who voted for me: I won’t let you down.”

Senior staff writers Suhauna Hussain, Sydney Fix and Malini Ramaiyer and staff writers Anjali Shrivastava, Miyako Iwata, Jessíca Jiménez, Sakura Cannestra, Mariam Zagub and Isabella Sabri contributed to this report.

Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks is the managing editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ayoonhendricks.

A previous version of this article failed to disclose that Derek Topper formerly worked at The Daily Californian.