After four weeks of campaigning, this year's student body president election was decided by the slimmest margin in recent UNC history, giving Young the presidency with 50.3 percent of the 5,081 votes cast in the runoff contest between Young and Eric Johnson.
Young said the 10 seconds it took for Board of Elections Chairman Jeremy Tuchmayer to announce the results lasted an eternity -- an eternity that ended in a visibly overwhelmed Young falling forward onto the desk.
"I couldn't believe it," Young said. "I just could not stand up. I could not move."
Young did not need to move, as an avalanche of supporters quickly enveloped him.
Johnson smiled as the results were announced but soon had tears welling in his eyes as he was consoled by his campaign manager, Tim Nelson.
Johnson's key concern was his loyal campaign staff, whom he immediately rallied for an impromptu private meeting.
"The thing I'll always remember about this campaign is that I got to meet such an amazing bunch of people," Johnson said. "The way everybody came together and busted their tails was just unbelievable. Just unbelievable."
One hour after the 10:15 p.m. announcement, Young said he was still recovering from the news.
"I don't know what to say. I'm just breathing right now," Young said.
Young's come-from-behind win came in the final hours before the polls closed Tuesday night. He was trailing Johnson in last Tuesday's election results, as well as in the 10 a.m. returns in Tuesday's runoff election.
Young credited his personalized approach and provocative multimedia campaign as the difference in the tight election. "People were saying that the candidates were similar, and that was reflected in the results. You had to stand out somehow."
Young's campaign manager, Matt Jones, said that Young stood out with an innovative campaign style, which was capped off by Young climbing atop the roof of the Undergraduate Library in the Pit during Tuesday's rush hour.
"Students have responded to our creative message," Jones said. "We kept it fresh; we kept it new. We were able to attract students who do not normally go out and vote.
"People got to see a part of my personality that was real. People could connect with that," Young said of his media spin.
Johnson agreed that the campaigns had reached a new level. "I'm telling you, we raised the bar," he said to Young moments before the results were announced.
Young extended his congratulations to Johnson for a hard-fought campaign, and he left the door open for Johnson's involvement in his administration. "Eric will continue to do great things. He's committed to making UNC a better a place," Young said.
Johnson said he needed to take some time to re-evaluate. "I'm going to take some time out and figure out what my priorities are before I leave this place," he said.
Lee Conner, former Graduate and Professional Student Federation president and 1996 student body president candidate, said the election proves that every ballot counts.
"If 16 people had changed their vote, Eric would have won," Conner said.
"You've got to feel bad for Eric -- what a tough way to go."
Young is aware of the tightness of this election and said he hopes that students will be supportive of his election, despite his narrow margin.
Young said that when he called his father Tuesday night to announce the good news, his father said, "Uh oh, recount."
Young recalled laughing and saying, "No, dad, this is Chapel Hill, not Florida."
For those 30 votes, Young said he wanted to thank every single one of his supporters. "I want to thank everyone who smiled at me, who said that (my campaign) made them laugh."
To thank the student body, Young said he hopes to be in the Pit today, but first he planned on partying in his apartment with his supporters.
"We're going to head back to Justin's, relax, and gear up for being students again," Jones said.
Young said he welcomes the break from the tough campaign.
"I'm still reeling -- a lot of sacrifices have been made," he said. "I'm eager to get part of my life back."
The other part, however, remains tied to his role as a student politician, with constituents to serve and promises to keep.
"The election was just the first step, and now it's time for step two," Young said.
"This is a new student government, a new way to serve Carolina, and I'm pumped."
The University Editor can be reached at email@example.com.
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