Battle for top SA office enters runoff
Campaign season will continue for one more week as the highest voter turnout in the last six years was not enough to determine a winner in the race to be the next Student Association president.
A total of 2,719 students cast their ballot during last week’s general election, filling the 23 SA senate seats and three SUNY Student Assembly representatives spots up for grabs. An amendment to SA’s constitution was also voted on.
No ticket on the ballot received the 51 percent of votes needed to win office as required by SA’s by-laws.
A run-off between the Mark Anthony Quinn and Patrick Carroll and Langie Cadesca and Nicholas Pepe tickets, who gained 42.76 and 39.24 percent of the vote respectively, will be held between March 28 and 30 to determine the final winner.
A total of 93 votes separates the two tickets.
The Jouly Lajara and Alexander O’Leary ticket gained 16.62 percent of the vote and will not compete in the upcoming run-off.
“It’s a little frustrating to be honest, I know I gave 100 percent that I could during this entire election,” said Quinn. “I’m not upset in anyway because it was a good election.”
“I’m not going to lie, I’ve been talking about this for a long time and I told Nick [Pepe] that it was going to be a run-off,” said Cadesca who explained the two remaining tickets are comprised of strong individuals and candidates. “I couldn’t imagine anyone reaching that 50 percent plus one needed.”
Neither ticket would give any insight into their campaign strategy for the run-off, but both sides expressed confidence in their chances during next week’s vote.
“We’re going to win,” said Cadesca. “I say that with confidence because this is something I feel like we are destined for.”
“I’m fired up,” said Carroll. “We’re ready to get back to work.”
Allegations of Campaign Violations
An unknown number of complaints were filed against both the Quinn/Carroll and Cadesca/Pepe tickets alleging violations to campaign rules, according to Danielle Haft, chair of the Elections Commission.
The Albany Student Press requested copies of complaints filed, but due to privacy concerns, Haft explained approval from Community Standards Director Brian Stephenson would be needed to release any such information. No complaints have been forwarded as of writing.
Most of the complaints were filed between Wednesday night and Friday morning ― the period when the polls were open.
The complaints, according to Haft, pertained mostly to candidates allegedly violating the privacy of students by lingering for extended periods while dorm-storming or looking over the shoulder of students while voting.
“It was kind of hard for the commission to really do anything,” said Haft of the complaints, citing insufficient evidence in all cases. “We were getting photos sent into us, but it was a photo of a candidate just standing next to a student…there was a very big lack of evidence.”
According to Haft, several emails were sent to each the candidates reminding them of election rules and guidelines, but no further action against any ticket was taken.
“The commission felt there weren’t any severe violations that were necessary to take action on,” she said.
The Cadesca/Pepe ticket filed several complaints against other tickets but would not specify which one in particular or the nature of the complaints.
“Nothing but warnings were issued on multiple occasions,” said Cadesca. “There’s nothing we can do about that because the Elections Commission is an impartial body…I definitely think they could have done more.”
Quinn dismissed any allegations made against his ticket as nothing more than politics.
“If you ever watch basketball it just so happens that the team that is winning, the other team starts to complain to the refs about how they’re getting fouled,” he said. “This is 100 percent a clean campaign.”
When asked about allegations made again his campaign, Pepe said he was unaware such grievances have been filed, calling the situation “unfortunate” before explaining his ticket followed election guidelines.
“If anyone on our team or anyone helping us out did anything against the rules whatsoever they need to be spoken to and they deserve sanctions,” he said.
Nineteen out of the 23 SA senate seats up for grabs this election were filled by members of the #UAlbanyUnited ticket – the same ticket headed by Quinn and Carroll.
Quinn believes the results will give his presidential bid a boost during the upcoming run-off.
“I will definitely bring attention to the fact that the senators we were promoting won,” he said. “That means a majority of the community stands with them.”
“It’s unfortunate, a lot of our ticket didn’t win,” said Pepe. “Our goal was to really get our whole ticket in because they really do share the same vision and goals that we do.”
Three available SUNY Student Assembly representative seats were also filled by Subha Tasnim, Nicolas Pepe and Tyler Polite this past week for the upcoming academic year.
Students also voted overwhelmingly in favor of an amendment to SA’s constitution that would reduce the number of students serving on the election commission from seven to five, creating a more efficient process when deciding on issues.
Voting for the run-off between the Quinn/Carroll and Cadesca/Pepe tickets will take place on Myinvolvement beginning March 28 at 12 p.m. and conclude on March 30 at 12 p.m.