ElevateCal-endorsed and independent candidates dominated the 2023 ASUC Senate elections, in line with observed trends from 2022.
The results were announced at 6 p.m. Friday during a tabulation ceremony held in Dwinelle Hall. With remarkable turnout, 46 candidates competed for 20 available senate seats, posing a significant challenge to all contenders. Of these, an overwhelming 32 ran as independents, while 10 ran with ElevateCal and four ran with the Progressives at Cal party.
Notably absent from the polls was the Student Action party, which chose not to run any candidates for the 2023 election cycle.
With the large number of candidates running, their platforms were predictably varied, ranging from increased support for various communities to mental health advocacy and improving campus safety, transportation and health infrastructure. The candidates also bring a wealth of experience and varied backgrounds to the senate, making for a diverse body committed to serving the entire campus community.
Next year’s cohort of ASUC senators will be independent candidates Andy Liu, Sonia Zu, José Massuh, Ariel Mizrahi, Ayal Meyers, Thin Rati Oo, Ashi Mishra, Isabel Prasad, Luca Hadife, Christine Song, Helena Wu, Caitlyn Guntle and Kailen Grottel-Brown; ElevateCal’s Andrea Jimenez, Sky Montgomery, Imaan Sultan, Lanah Duque, Aanya Niharika Schoetz and Bianca Torres Murray; and Progressives at Cal’s Amyrah J. Doty.
Independent Ashley Tigue was elected as this year’s transfer representative, winning 4,362 votes to her opponent Sharef Osman’s 2,282, who ran with ElevateCal.
“I feel so excited to start this position. It’s something I’ve been working on ever since transferring to UC Berkeley,” Tigue said. “I’m so excited to get started on the work … This is a new beginning for transfer students to make sure that transfer voices are heard in the senate and in the university.”
Her platforms focus on transfer student representation, with a particular focus on the longevity of her projects.
Notably, Tigue wants to reduce the exclusion of transfer students from registered student organizations.
“My top priority is really working on transfer initiatives within the university, especially with implementing the transfer working group,” Tigue said. “I plan to work with the university’s administration to hold them accountable and implement this workgroup so transfer initiatives will continue to be worked on even after my term is over,” she added in an email.
Independent candidates for ASUC Senate won a slight majority over candidates running with parties ElevateCal and Progressives at Cal, with 13 out of 20 senate seats claimed by independents.
Amyrah J. Doty, the only member of Progressives at Cal to win a seat, said they felt shock upon hearing the results. Doty noted it was unexpected for “something so grassroots, something so community-oriented” to win.
“This was a shoestring campaign. We didn’t have money, merchandise or stickers, or any of the fancy workings you would find in these strong fraternity coalitions,” Doty said. “We manifested this campaign out of nothing.”
Senate candidates Kevin Li and Rashno Razmkhah expressed disappointment over the lack of transfer representation in this year’s cohort, with Razmkhah saying it feels like “one step backwards.” Senator-elect Isabel Prasad also noted that the MEMSSA caucus is not represented in this year’s senate.
“This year, zero out of 20 senators are transfer students,” Li said. “In that sense, this election has been a disaster for transfer representation.”
ElevateCal, a party running with the platform of uplifting marginalized communities, was given reason to cheer at the tabulations ceremony. Six out of 10 members of ElevateCal’s senate slate were met with success, with Andrea Jimenez coming in at first place.
Many candidates also expressed their happiness at this year’s increased voter turnout, including senate candidate Syed Moiz Rauf, who did not win a seat.
“It was heartening to see how many people turned up to vote this year,” Rauf said. “Hats off to the ASUC and all those involved in organizing the elections.”
Both senators who ran for reelection — Thin Rati Oo and Kailen Grottel-Brown — were voted into their seats for a second term. Grottel-Brown, who secured the final spot in the senate, expressed gratitude and excitement to work with a new class of senators.
Grottel-Brown added that he was “glad” that it was decided not to make the transfer representative, now tentatively held by Ashley Tigue, an executive position. He noted it would have risked Tigue not having an “important” vote in the senate.
“I knew going into it that it would be a tough election,” Grottel-Brown said. “This is the start to how the ASUC can be a more impactful election.”
Overall, both elected and unelected senators expressed their hope and optimism for the coming year.
“There are so many projects, so many amazing people in the senate class and I’m just excited to work with everyone and make this place better for students,” said senator-elect Aanya Niharika Schoetz.
Election results must be certified by both the Elections Council and the Judicial Council before they are deemed final.
Results for the 2023-24 ASUC executive offices and referenda are also available on The Daily Californian’s website.
News editors Kavya Gupta and Ratul Mangal contributed to this report.