It’s official: The 2015-16 Student Government election is over, and the votes are in. Florida Gulf Coast University has a newly elected executive branch.
This year, Thieldens Elneus, Jessica Scanlon and Karli Gomes ran unopposed for the offices of president, vice president and treasurer, respectively. They campaigned for several weeks, culminating in a Q&A session in lieu of a debate on Feb. 19. Though the event had a relatively low turnout, hundreds of students showed up to vote for the candidates from Feb. 24 – 26.
Shaneeka Supal, supervisor of SG elections, said that 863 students voted in this year’s election. According to Sen. Charles Duffie, Elneus received more than 800 votes, while Scanlon and Gomes received more than 750 votes each.
At a recent senate meeting, Sen. Nathan Joyner expressed his pride in all three candidates, who were formerly senators.
“We got three of our own elected, and that’s pretty awesome,” Joyner said to a round of applause from the senate.
Elneus and Gomes enjoyed the campaigning process (Scanlon was unavailable for comment), but noted that it was rather uneventful in comparison to previous years. As pointed out by Supal, running as one uncontested party tends to result in “low interest” in the election.
“The campaign was a pretty smooth process, nothing special to report,” Elneus said. “There were no major challenges or anything, so that’s good.”
Gomes had a less-satisfactory experience, pointing out how it was hard to be taken seriously while running uncontested.
“I really wish we had some competition,” Gomes said. “I mean, it went well with what we had — which was basically just word of mouth campaigning — but one thing I noticed was that it was hard to persuade some people to vote. They just asked, ‘Why should I vote?’ They thought it was silly since we were the only ones running.”
Despite a fairly uneventful election cycle, the candidates are excited to get started in their new executive roles. Rather than focusing most of their energy on particular policies or proposals, however, the team wants to radically “change the culture” of SG and increase student involvement and interest. Elneus noted that there is a stereotype about SG that he wants to eliminate.
“I’m the first non-Greek president in years,” Elneus said, referring to the fact that SG presidents of recent years have all been members of fraternities and sororities. “There’s nothing wrong with Greek life, but we want to send the message that we’re here for all students, not just some groups.”
Gomes agreed, pointing out the need to “bridge the gap” between SG and other organizations by “trying to attend every senate meeting.”
Elneus, Scanlon and Gomes will officially begin their terms April 1.