The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday May 10th

Student Congress special elections have high turnout

The Student Congress special elections held Monday featured an unusually high level of participation — both in voter turnout and in candidates running for office.

More than 900 students voted in the special election to fill nine empty seats.

SPECIAL ELECTIONS
  • Braxton Reyna – District 1
  • Conor Winters – District 4
  • Will Stelpflug – District 4
  • Max Williams – District 4
  • John Guzek – District 7
  • John Caison – District 7
  • Kizzmekia Corbett – District 10
  • Brittany Clark – District 10
  • Michael Smalenberger – District 11

In contrast, only 250 students voted to fill four empty seats in the last election held in January.

Speaker of Student Congress Paige Comparato said the large turnout was a result of a concentrated effort to publicize the elections.

“I am extremely pleased with how the first elections turned out this year,” she said.

These special elections marked the first time a new set of districts was used after a redistricting bill became effective April 1.

The redistricting bill, which was proposed by Comparato in fall 2011, divided South Campus into two districts — South Campus East and South Campus West.

Comparato said the bill was adopted in an effort to better represent South Campus constituents.

The nine open seats attracted a large number of students to the candidates interest meeting before the elections kicked off, Comparato said.

Fifty-seven people declared their candidacies at the end of the meeting, and 28 candidates ended up on the ballots.

“The amount of people that came to the mandatory candidates meeting was extremely high and exciting actually,” Comparato said.

Shruthi Sundaram, chairwoman of UNC’s Board of Elections, said she was surprised by the large turnout in candidates for the special elections, given that voter turnout in student elections is historically low.

“It was great that, that many people turned out,” Sundaram said.

Comparato said Student Congress members focused on raising awareness about the election by holding an open house during the Week of Welcome and by utilizing social media.

“I was really excited to see that those efforts were successful in the end,” she said.

She added that this election was important because it was the first opportunity for freshmen to become involved in Student Congress.

Freshman Will Stelpflug, who won a seat in District 4, South Campus East, said he is excited about his new role in Student Congress.

“I want to help make it more understandable and more accessible for clubs to control their own destiny,” Stelpflug said.

Junior John Guzek, who won a seat in District 7, for off-campus residents, said many students are unaware of the potential student government has to make a difference in students’ lives.

“As one of the newest voices in Congress, I am very excited to represent the interests of UNC students over this coming school year,” Guzek said.

Contact the desk editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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