Independent candidates, Elevate Cal, Student Action split ASUC senate

Infographic about 2022 ASUC Election Senate, Transfer Results
Mohini Rye/Senior Staff

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Update  4/9/22: This article has been updated to reflect updated senate totals.

In a reversal from the past two years, independent candidates and candidates running with parties split the senate.

The results were announced Friday during the first in-person tabulations ceremony since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In an increase from last year, 32 candidates ran for the 20 available senate positions, with platforms centering around mental health resources, sexual violence and sexual harassment prevention and supporting marginalized communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.  

Of the 32 candidates, 11 ran with Student Action, seven ran under the Elevate Cal coalition, 14 were independent and one candidate ran with End Berkeley.

“Know why you are here,” said Ulises Serrano, interim director for student government advising at the LEAD Center. “You are here for the student body, for all students at the end of the day.” 

Next year’s ASUC senators will be independent candidates Emma Centeno, Shay Cohen, Kailen Grottel-Brown, Deborah Kim, Manuel Cisneros Jr., Deena Ali, Josh Lee, and Thin Rati Oo; Elevate Cal’s Carlos Vásquez, Stephanie Wong, Shri Gopal, Yasamin Hatefi, Soha Manzoor and Raymond Hufnagel; and Student Action’s Megan Yao, Akash Ponna, Charles Peng, Anjali Jogia-Sattar, Mahathi Kandimalla and Tyler Mahomes

Aileen Sanchez, who ran with Elevate Cal, was elected to serve as the third ASUC transfer representative for the 2022-23 school year with 3,343 votes compared to Scott Nagatoshi’s 2,934 votes.

“I am so, so happy and so grateful that there is a Latina first-generation, low-income transfer student being able to uplift students who don’t usually get heard,” Sanchez said. “I am very grateful to the community.”  

Photo of projector screen in Wheeler Hall saying ASUC Elections Tabulations Ceremony

Sanchez will be the first transfer representative from Elevate Cal and the third representative in the history of the senate. 

Her platforms emphasize basic needs, accessibility to mental health resources and equity in the workforce and academia, and she will also prioritize transfer student retention and secure housing.

“I am very grateful for all the (UC) Berkeley community for being active and exercising their right to vote,” Sanchez said. “The immense support that we all had really shows how much we worked to get here and how much we want to uplift marginalized students.”

The senate results align with the previous two senate classes, with no party majority. However, in a break from the previous two classes, the independent senators do not make up the majority of the senate, as only eight independent candidates were elected.

Cohen, who ran on platforms of Jewish inclusion, ASUC transparency and sexual violence and sexual harassment reflected on her campaign and the importance of voter turnout. Without enough people voting, according to Cohen, the ASUC cannot properly represent students.

“The high voter turnout was amazing. We can’t say we represent a student body if the student body isn’t voting,” Cohen said. “That is why I’m super happy that there was a higher turnout than usual this year.”

A number of senators received official endorsements from their communities, including Ali, who was the Middle Eastern, Muslim, Sikh and South Asian Coalition-endorsed candidate. Ali’s main goal is to increase political advocacy for members of her community and the larger student body.

As the first Eco Community-endorsed candidate, Centeno will fight for environmental justice legislation and advocate for other groups disproportionately affected by environmental changes. Centeno expressed her pride in her community and turned her sights on what she can do in the future.

“I’m feeling very honored, humbled and excited,” Centeno said. “I’m just really glad that I had my community’s support. I hope I can live up to their expectations.”

Elevate Cal and Student Action both will have six members in the 2022 ASUC Senate.

While there has been friction between the two parties in the past, some incumbent senators, including Hufnagel, expressed a need to work more cohesively.

“The next step is definitely bridging the divide between Student Action and Elevate Cal,” Hufnagel said. “Ultimately, the ASUC represents the entire student body, not just one party, and I think we can achieve that unity.”

Many candidates also brought up the return to partially in-person voting, with Ali noting the transition “must have been hard on people.”Photo of projector screen with overall turnout and graduate turnout results

Some candidates, however, credited in-person operations with increasing voter turnout. Compared to the 2021 elections, voter turnout increased by 23%. 

“I was really excited to hear there was a huge amount of voter increase,” said ASUC senate candidate Jordan Ullman, who was not elected. “I think it’s due to us being in person because we’re no longer in Zoom university.”

Across the board, successful candidates expressed their excitement to get started and collaborate with others in the senate. Wong, who is currently a senator, said she was thrilled to get back to work, while Oo said she will do her best to execute her campaign promises.

Although Jogia-Sattar was thrilled by her success and the opportunity to represent her community, she stressed the real work was yet to begin.

“I am overwhelmed with such a strong sense of community and can’t wait to get to work,” Jogia-Sattar said. “Winning the election is of course the first step, but now it comes with an insane amount of responsibility to be a transparent representative and not speak for, but speak with the community.

Election results must be certified by both the Elections Council and the Judicial Council before they are deemed final. 

Staff writers Riley Cooke, Kavya Gupta, Gabe Classon, Maxine Mouly and Anishi Patel also contributed to this report.

Contact Aditya Katewa, Vani Suresh and Maria Young at [email protected].