In a landslide victory, junior Omar Woodard won the Student Association presidency Thursday night, garnering more than two-thirds of votes in a win over junior Lee Roupas.
Sophomore Anyah Dembling narrowly edged junior Ed Buckley in a hotly contested executive vice president contest decided by 150 votes. The Joint Elections Committee, which was set to hear charges against Dembling Friday regarding alleged financial misconduct, canceled its hearing because of an internal snafu.
Supporters mobbed Woodard after the JEC announced that he won almost 68 percent of the vote. Woodard attributed his overwhelming win to a grass-roots campaign that sought to reach out to “apathetic” students who have been alienated by the SA.
“I’m really excited for the numbers,” Woodard said in an interview shortly after election officials announced the results in the Hippodrome at about midnight. “It really means students are ready for a change.”
A dejected Roupas huddled with his campaign team before hugging Woodard and congratulating him on his victory.
Roupas said he was happy with the effort his team – which included dozens of supporters passing out fire-related paraphanalia related to his “F.I.R.E. up GW” motto.
“We worked so hard this week. I’m so proud of my team, I couldn’t ask for more,” said Roupas, who is also chairman of the College Republicans and a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
Woodard garnered 34 percent of the ballots in the general election last week but failed to get the 40 percent necessary to win the election outright. Roupas took 23 percent in the initial vote.
Dembling also received the highest amount of votes last week but also could not get enough support to avoid a run-off with Buckley. Dembling, who anxiously awaited the results Thursday night with a flushed face as pink as her campaigners’ T-shirts, held three cell phones in her hands as she told family and friends about the win.
“I’m pretty overwhelmed,” she said. “I just want to catch up on my sleep and say thanks to everyone.”
Sophomore Asher Corson, who finished third in the EVP race, filed a complaint last week with the JEC alleging that Dembling did not acknowledge paying for the membership fees of at least five members of the College Democrats prior to the group’s endorsement hearings last month.
But on Friday, the JEC dismissed the charges, saying the commission’s general counsel failed to properly inform Dembling about the complaint. Dembling would have had to relinquish her position if election officials found that she exceeded her $750 spending limit or received eight violations.
Dembling did not receive violations during the campaign and was “under budget,” said JEC Chair John Plack. The JEC does not prohibit candidates from paying for the membership fees of student group participants, but it requires them to file reports for all campaign expenditures.
Shaina Schallop, general counsel for the JEC, said she never sent Dembling a formal complaint because the committee was occupied with the election process.
“Everyone has been so sick and so tired and overwhelmed,” she said. “Everyone started to (draft notifications for Dembling), and it just slipped through the cracks.”
Schallop said Dembling could still be investigated if a student brought charges against her to the Student Court, but Corson said he does not plan to pursue further judicial action.
“I think Anyah as the victor in this whole thing has the ability to have a clean start,” he said.
David Bratslavsky, a member of the JEC, filed a dissenting opinion after charges against Dembling were dropped.
“I don’t think it should have been thrown out,” Bratslavsky said. “It’s not to say she’s innocent or guilty, but the facts should have been heard.”
He also said the charter should include a provision preventing bribery, and the JEC should have seven members, instead of the current five, and add a judicial body to deal with candidate complaints.
Dembling, who declined to comment on the allegations, said she is “excited” to take office in May.
Turnout for the run-off was lower than last week’s election, which featured 14 presidential and EVP candidates.
Only 2,174 students went to the polls Wednesday and Thursday compared with 2,990 last week. Last year, about 700 less students voted in the run-off.
Woodard said he wants to re-establish students’ trust in an SA that was plagued last year by a financial scandal that resulted in the resignation of some senators. He also promised to press University officials on student complaints about Student Judicial Services procedures and Greek-letter Townhouse Row.
“This is not going to be … an SA that is deferential to the needs of the administration,” he said.
-Mosheh Oinounou contributed to this report.