Nearly 600 Lane students elected Michael Weed as their next president, filled their senate, and approved ballot measures to increase the activity fee and continue funding a student advocacy group during a four-day election last week.
Weed shared a ticket with vice president-elect Malisa Ratthasing. Together, they defeated presidential candidate Francisco “Kiko” Gomez and vice presidential candidate Ben Buchanan by winning 73.3 percent of the 540 votes cast in the executive race. Gomez and Buchanan earned 23 percent of the votes, and write-in candidates snagged the remaining 3.7 percent.
By tighter margins, only half of the 598 respondents approved one measure which will increase the per-term student activity fee by $4 to benefit ASLCC Legal Services. Approximately 65 percent of voters approved a measure to continue funding Oregon Student Public Interest Group, which receives $3 of the $50.30-per-term student activity fee.
More than half of 513 voters elected senatorial candidates Emily Aguilera, Sarah Pishioneri, Jennifer McCarrick, Felicia Dickinson and Robert Schumacher. The remaining winners — Nicole Rund, Brandi Hoskins, Caleb Miller, Sofie Crandall and Christian Mello — each received at least 40 percent of the votes.
Mello edged out his closest opponent, Wesley Allen, by only one vote. Allen, Trevor Moore, Scott Compton and Esau Gavett could still fill seats on the ASLCC Senate if one or more of the winners decline their positions.
“Me and Malisa are really adamant about following up what this administration has done,” Weed said. “We tried to put on a lot of successful events to get students engaged with student government. … We want to go with that. We want to move forward with that.”
Current student government President Paul Zito said he was pleased voters elected Weed, who was instrumental in launching the Rainy Day Food Pantry, which Zito said was the greatest success of his presidency.
He urged incoming leaders to realize their pet projects will change from inception to completion.
For example, Zito said, student leaders faced a minor clash with Lane staff over appropriating space for the pantry, and the process by which students could shop at the pantry differed from his initial vision for the project.
“Your projects oftentimes become subject to the social thinktank,” Zito said.
Weed and his staff will appoint a treasurer and multicultural programs coordinator, two positions that were previously elected.
This year, student elections moved from myLane to OrgSync, and the number of respondents doubled. The polls were open from April 28 through May 1. Fewer than 1 percent of Lane students voted in last year’s elections.
Weed and Gomez faced controversies during their race to the top.
Through the crowdfunding website gofundme.com, Weed began asking for donations as early as Feb. 25, but student government bylaws prohibit- ed candidates from “campaigning” before April 14. As he was asking for donations — not votes — the Elections Committee ruled on April 23 that his fundraising activities did not violate campaign rules.
Meanwhile, Gomez walked out of the April 23 student senate meeting twice and admitted to using his senatorial position to influence the elections, mere hours after he jumped onto a cafeteria table during lunchtime and attempted to address students.
That night, Gomez said he had untreated anger management issues, but would persist in his bid for the presidency because no candidate should run unopposed, even though Gomez felt that he was at a severe disadvantage to Weed’s campaign.
“I’m running against a machine,” he said on April 23.
The candidates on a third ticket, Clinton Fear and Kathy Renfrowand, left the race before elections began.
(Former News Editor J. Wolfgang Wool and former reporter Taya Alami contributed to this report.)