SA prepares for upcoming elections

The Student Association is preparing to begin election season Tuesday with the distribution of election petition forms, appointment of the Joint Elections Committee and official approval for the JEC charter.

The Joint Elections Committee is a five-member body with representatives from the SA, Program Board and Marvin Center Governing Board. The body oversees the elections process and enforces deadlines and rules.

SA leaders said the elections process is slightly delayed this year because they are trying to follow legislative procedure strictly. The SA holds elections annually in mid to late February.

After Tuesday’s meeting, the SA will be on schedule, said Eric Daleo, SA executive vice president.

Potential candidates must collect signatures to be considered for positions. Daleo said this year’s deadline will be at the end of this month or the beginning of February, and the SA will set an exact date Tuesday.

Last year, eight students ran for SA president, the most candidates in 10 years. Six students ran for executive vice president.

Despite last year’s high numbers, SA leaders said they cannot specualte on how many students will run this year. SA President Kris Hart attributed the high numbers to last year’s internal problems, senator resignations and scandals.

“I think a lot of people just wanted to see if they could change things,” he said.

Only former SA Sen. Omar Woodard and Isaiah Pickens, SA vice president for undergraduate student policy, said they are running for SA president.

Woodard serves as president of the Black Student Union and is active in the Muslim Student Association. He is also a former SA senator.

“I plan to focus on serving students first,” he said. “My campaign will be about involving and empowering the students.”

Pickens, a former member of the basketball team and the Colonial Cabinet, said his activities and leadership ability are assets. He said there is a “disconnection between the SA and students,” and hopes to bring all students together.

“(I want to make) student life feel revitalized,” Pickens said.

Hart, a junior, said he has not decided whether he will run for re-election.

“We’ve made a lot of ground this year reaching out to the Board of Trustees and the administration,” he said. “I really think they understand us right now. We’ve really reached out to the students as well.”

Four SA senators said they plan to run for executive vice president. Sen. Anyah Dembling, serving her second year in the Senate, said she decided to run because of her previous experience.

“I know that my talents will best be used there,” she said. “I will lead by example.”

Sen. Asher Corson (U-CCAS) is also planning to run.

“I would be dedicated to leading in the same way I’ve worked to make the SA something students can believe in,” Corson said.

Corson said he plans to make his proposed “ethics package” a major part of his campaign platform. The package consists of nine pieces of legislation pending votes in the Senate, which propose to impose term limits on senators, abolish secret voting for certain types of votes and establish an ethics committee that would investigate wrongdoing in the SA independently of the executive branch.

Corson said he wants to “give the students a reason to trust the SA enough to raise the fee.”

SA Vice President and Director of Special Projects Ed Buckley also confirmed his candidacy.

“I’ve looked at what we’ve been able to accomplish in terms of student outreach and service, and I refuse to believe that we can’t take that to the next level,” he said. “I want to bring optimism for new activity, new engagement, a new message and new advancement.”

Buckley has overseen several SA initiatives, including GWVotes, which registered 1,000 new student voters, and the farmer’s market.

Last year’s JEC designated five days at the beginning of February for candidates to collect signatures. Presidential and executive vice presidential candidates need to collect 450 signatures while Senate candidates need signatures from two percent of constituents.

The only qualifications for SA office are that the candidate must be taking at least one credit at GW, and cannot be on academic or judicial probation.

For a presidential candidate to win the general election, he must secure at least 40 percent of votes cast. If no candidates receive 40 percent, there is a runoff election between the top two candidates in early March.

-Elizabeth Chernow and Julie Gordon contributed to this report.

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