Robinson, Pederson win SGA election

(Updated April 6, 2011 at 1:22 a.m. to reflect more information)

They stood on the third floor of the University Center, faces close to the windows, watching Stephen Meier, manager in the Dean of Students office, for a sign the election results had been posted.

“If I don’t win, I’ll have to figure out what to do with the rest of my life,” said presidential candidate Dustin Robinson.

“You will pick yourself up off the floor and keep serving students,” said Alexandra Hedges, who will be the Secretary for Student Involvement in the fall 2011 semester.

Across the plaza, president and vice-presidential candidates Danielle Hawks and Jamie Hazenfield, Jr. calmly stood outside the Student Government Association offices in the Student Union.

“Last year I was on the edge of my seat,” said Hawks, current SGA vice president. “This year, I’m mature enough to know I can’t do anything [after the polls close].”

Once the votes were counted, it took two tries for Robinson to get the call. The first one dropped before he got the final results; on the second, he smiled.

“We won by over 100 votes,” Robinson told the crowd of about 20 supporters waiting with him.

Robinson and Erik Pederson won the president and vice president positions in the SGA elections March 31 by 139 votes. They will step into their new roles after the spring semester ends.

Throughout the campaign, Robinson and Hawks used different techniques to try to reach voters.

Robinson and Pederson spent more than $1,000 on their campaign—money that was used to buy Facebook ads, handbills, door hangers, pins, T-shirts and other merchandise.

Hawks and Hazenfield, however, relied more on a shoe-leather campaign, spending less money and doing things such as handing out more than 4,000 handbills to students.

“I guess that’s what you get when you spend more than $1,000 on an election,” Hawks said after Meier read the results. “At least I’ll get to graduate a semester sooner.”
President-elect Robinson attributed his success to preparation and support.

“I knew that a successful marketing campaign would require financial resources, so I started saving money a few months ago,” Robinson said. “I think that our campaign was organized, and we were fortunate enough to have the support of friends who helped us get out the vote.”

Robinson chose a young running mate in freshman Erik Pederson, who Robinson is expecting to bring a fresh take on issues presented to SGA.

“Things were not going as well as they needed to go, and they haven’t been for the past two years,” Pederson said.

Despite knowing there may be some contention between his and Robinson’s goals and the senate, Pederson said he is excited about his new position in SGA.

“This opens so many more doors for me in the future, not only in SGA, but in my student experience as a whole,” Pederson said. “Being this young would also help to encourage other freshmen to get involved with SGA because of the common ground we [share].”

Student participation increased in this election with 916 votes, 225 more votes than the 2010 SGA election.

In the meantime, Hawks and Hazenfield will be wrapping up their terms in SGA, and figuring out what’s next for them.

“Sheesh, that seems to be the million dollar question,” Hawks said. “I think the free time will be a blessing. I’m planning on working more, maybe finding an internship.”

Next to president and vice president, the other contested election was for Judicial Council, with six candidates competing for five positions. Stacey Grippa, Abby Gross, Kirti Sapra, Mitchell Green and Kayla Justice were elected. William Enderle was the only judicial candidate not chosen.

Three uncontested positions went to the candidates listed on the ballot. Alexandra Hedges was elected secretary for student involvement, Michelle Forlenza was elected the secretary for public relations and Robert Hornung was elected secretary for administrative affairs.

The 21 senate candidates on the ballot were elected, and four write-in candidates waged successful campaigns to fill the remaining seats. Charles Rust, Roya Headley, Kevin Surface and General Bowen rounded out the senate.

Hawks said she wants to thank the student body for letting her serve on SGA for three years.

The other students elected to the senate are:

Ron Burse
John Jose
Austin Green
Holly Little
Holden Thomas Markland
Nick Cropper
Joseph Fons
Daniel Cieslak
Ryan Hall
Mikey Adkins
Chanell Karr
Travis Schwaller
Daniel Morales
Chaz Edwards
April Landry
Brad Rogers
Kyle Kohorst
Joshua Lee Moermond
Terrance McCraney
Brittany D. Lewin
Joshua Tunning

Story by Claire Higgins and Cassie Stone