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The Daily Tar Heel

Year in Review: Cooper wins SBP in venomous election

Photo: Cooper wins SBP in venomous election (Lauren McCay)

Student Body President Mary Cooper received 62 percent of the runoff election vote.

Student body president Mary Cooper was able to pull away in a sweeping victory in the spring election, but the unprecedented level of controversy that plagued the contest is not easily forgotten.

“It’s sad that this story became about the candidates and not the issues that students are going to be facing,” said Ian Lee, then the student body secretary and runner-up to Cooper, after the results were announced.

“Mary was able to stay out of the negativity that surrounded this election, and students connected with that.”

Cooper collected 62 percent in the runoff election, while Lee got 38 percent.

The controversy began early, and first surrounded Lee, whose candidacy violated the Student Code, opponents said, because he held onto his position in the executive branch while running.

It later evolved into several complaints against Rick Ingram, who collected the most campaign support signatures from students in recent memory — 2,945.

Cooper and Lee said Ingram engaged in “malicious and harmful” behavior against them and their campaign staffs.

The candidates provided evidence against Ingram to Andrew Phillips, chairman of the Board of Elections, who called a hearing of disqualification for Ingram.

The nearly three-hour hearing, which wavered from tense to comedic, resulted in the board deciding not to disqualify the junior, instead fining his campaign $25.

“You chose to try and embarrass me,” Ingram said to Cooper and Lee in the hearing. “You chose to try and embarrass my campaign manager. And that’s wrong, and you should not have done that.”

Ingram was knocked out of the race on Feb. 17, when the Student Supreme Court lifted an injunction it had placed on the release of the election results.

The injunction was prompted by a suit filed to the court by former speaker of Student Congress Deanna Santoro that challenged the legality of Lee’s candidacy.

Cooper and Lee finished first and second, respectively — with 39 percent and 25 percent — to move on to the runoff election. Ingram and Brooklyn Stephens finished third and fourth, respectively.

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