Home»News»‘Juju’ Fontaine Grabs Landslide Win, First Woman Elected SA President in 17 Years

‘Juju’ Fontaine Grabs Landslide Win, First Woman Elected SA President in 17 Years

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Jerlisa Fontaine broke down in tears around a huddle of her supporters watching a historic Student Association presidential race unfold.

It was a landslide victory.

Fontaine, running with Madeeha Khan, defeated Tiran Koren and Andalib Anwar by a 65 percent margin to become the first female SA president-elect since 2000.

“Honestly, just seeing how far the graph was going in comparison to everyone else, it was just like, ‘Wow, I really did a big thing,’” said Fontaine. “I didn’t just win, but I established a blowout and that’s something really important to feel special about.”

She secured an early flood of endorsements including SA presidents, fraternities, and student groups. With a full down-ballot ticket, Fontaine supporters started making a social media footprint days before both other candidates.

Pro-Fontaine campaign efforts later slipped into SA programming. At Thursday’s Purple & Gold Award Ceremony, Abreu asked those in the crowd to vote for Fontaine.

 “On my end if I had not made that comment, I would’ve been letting myself down because I choose to stand for what I believe in and that’s something I believe in,” said Abreu.

Campaign efforts buoyed most senate candidates under the Fontaine ticket. Anwar’s eight-candidate ticket failed to win any senate seats; only one of three candidates managed to make senate gains on Koren’s ticket.

While not on a ticket, Nadia Naoum, an applied & natural sciences senate candidate, strategically endorsed Fontaine throughout the election. Despite failing to win office, she hopes that her support will land her an appointment as community engagement and outreach director.

“I supported her 100 percent because I was like ‘Oh, director’s position, they pick’ and was like ‘Oh, that’s good,’” said Naoum.

Meanwhile, Pi Delta Psi, an Asian fraternity, championed Koren’s ticket out of promises to cease cultural group budget cuts and prevent programming hiccups, chapter President Long Huynh said.

“With the chaos that happened at last year Parkfest regarding tickets, we were happy to see a group that wanted to find ways to change the way it is run currently to make sure it would be more smoothly in the future,” said Huynh in an email.

Rey Muniz, SA parliamentarian and former senator, had a different message: Vote for anyone or anything else. In a Facebook post, Muniz called each of the candidates “not competent enough” to lead the organization.

Alexander Terezakis, a 2015-16 presidential candidate, slammed the presidential pool for not pushing to revive Fountain Day. A long-time campus tradition, Fountain Day was canceled in 2011 after the “Keg & Eggs” incident.

A year away from Terezakis’ presidential run, overall voter turnout has been 156 percent higher (roughly 2,500 votes). Danielle Haft, chair of the election’s commission, contributes the boost to a heavy use of social media advertising.

Koren lightly advertised on social media in comparison to both other presidential candidates throughout the campaign period. Despite this, he was closest to Fontaine with 460 votes (still nearly 1,000 votes apart). Koren has not responded to comment on the election results.

In an email shortly after election results were released, Anwar congratulated Fontaine on her victory. Him, with running mate Emma Benz, lost with 339 votes (about 14 percent of the vote).  

Beyond voter turnout, the election carries historic weight throughout SA. Fontaine will be the first in some 40 years to lead the organization outside of its current site. SA officials have put administration to task over a lack of rooms in the upcoming west addition.

“It kind of diminishes the value of the other directors and what they do and privacy concerns for that matter,” said Jarrett Altilio, senate chair.


Tyler A. McNeil is the current managing editor for the Albany Student Press. The Capital Region native previously served as managing editor for The Hudsonian, and as an intern for the Times Union and Capital Tonight.

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