Two different campaigns both yield success

The top two vote-getters Thursday night for Student Association president could not have had a more different approach to campaigning.

While both are veteran SA Senators with two years’ experience, one ran the only full slate of the year’s election with a team that almost swept the senate seats. The other was the only presidential candidate to run as an independent with no vice president or senate candidates.

As junior Marc Abanto and sophomore Nicole Capp look forward to this week’s runoff election on Wednesday and Thursday, they are also looking back on what helped them get this far.

Abanto’s Student Union slate members won all of the undergraduate senate seats for undergraduate At-Large, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and Elliott School of International Affairs. Student Union supporters, who could not officially run on the slate because of Joint Elections Committee rules, won undergraduate seats in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the School of Public Health and Health Services. Senator-Elect Matt Cohen (SoB-U), an independent, was the only undergraduate student elected who was not associated with the Student Union.

“Running on a slate is such a great experience,” Abanto said in an interview the day after the results were announced. “Just to have a unifying experience – win or lose – you come out with something positive.”

SA Senator Nathan Brill (SoB-U), who won reelection with the Student Union, said slates are most helpful for students who do not have experience within the SA.

“As someone who was an SA outsider, but had a lot of good ideas, I wanted to get involved and help,” said Brill, a junior. “But navigating complex campaign rules without a slate would have been difficult.”

Capp, who is a Columbian College senator, took a different approach to this year’s campaign. While she ran on the Real GW slate last year, she chose against running with a team of candidates this year.

“I don’t know if I would have won if I wasn’t on a slate and that is not fair,” Capp said about running with a team of students last year. She added, “slates can punish qualified students.”

Now, she said having an SA full of students from one team could hurt the SA.

“The SA next year should not be a clique and it will be one if it is all Student Union,” Capp said.

If she is elected president this week, Capp said she will work with the senators who ran on the Student Union slate.

Abanto said that although many of his friends are on the slate, they are no longer united by the Student Union.

“The Student Union is no longer in existence,” Abanto said. “The (senators-elect) are individuals with their own goals and ideas.”

Capp said her independence was a major factor in her advancement to the run-off elections.

“I think students want to elect the best candidate that will work with all candidates,” Capp said.

Slates became popular in 2004 with the Clean Slate team run by senior Asher Corson and 2006 graduate Ben Traverse. In 2005, Traverse ran on the Coalition for Reform slate, which won 10 out of the 15 seats, but lost Traverse the presidency.

Last year, the Real GW slate-led by senior Morgan Corr also had a strong showing, winning 11 of the 15 undergraduate seats in the Senate. Two other slates, the College Party and GWUnited, took the remaining four seats.

This year there were two slates led by presidential candidates. In addition to the Student Union, the Students for Progress slate, led by junior Michael Ray Huerta, also had five candidates for undergraduate senate seats, however, the slate did not win any seats in the election.

Corr, who this year is the JEC-vice chair and last year was the presidential candidate for Real GW, said that slate affiliation does not hurt independents in a slate-dominated senate.

“When I ran for the SA Senate my freshman year without a slate, I didn’t feel excluded and the Senate worked effectively,” Corr said. “I believe the same happened last year.”

In 2005 and 2006, the success of the slates did not bring the presidential candidates victories in the runoff elections. In 2005, former SA President Audai Shakour, an independent, beat Coalition for Reform presidential candidate Ben Traverse in the presidential runoff election and current SA President Lamar Thorpe, an independent, edged out Corr, who ran on a slate in 2006.

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