Sam McMahon voted SA president

Contentious reelection process ends in McMahon's victory

The Spectrum

Sam McMahon said he isn't one to show a lot of emotion, but after hearing he had won the Student Association's presidential election, his immediate reactions were to pump his fist, kiss his girlfriend and call his parents.

McMahon received 1,087 votes, beating Mohammad Alwahaidy, his closest competitor, by 309. A total of 2,260 students participated in the election, roughly 11.6 percent of the undergraduate population. Though seven candidates were running for the position, McMahon, Alwahaidy and Jessica Honan were the only ones to attend the result announcement in the SA office, 350 Student Union.

"One thousand eighty seven votes - I don't know nearly that many people," McMahon said. "So there are a lot of people who put a lot of faith in me because of something they heard ... I am just so grateful to everyone who came out and voted for me ... I am very happy the students made an informed decision."

The Student Association's former president, Nick Johns, resigned his position on Sept. 18. Before the reelection, Vice President Lyle Selsky was working as the interim president.

Tensions were high throughout the three-day election; candidates and their supporters packed into the Union handing out fliers and trying to get students into the voting booths. The tensions continued after the results were announced.

Shortly after the announcement, Elad Eliahu, one of Alwahaidy's supporters, stormed into the SA office. McMahon had left the room at that time. Eliahu claimed that, right as the election ended, McMahon had told him to "go [expletive]" himself.

McMahon admitted initiating the exchange.

Academic Coordinator James Ingram, who was one of McMahon's campaign supporters, said he saw the incident and had to hold Eliahu back from McMahon. McMahon was frank with his explanation.

"I am not going to lie to you guys - that is exactly what I said to him," McMahon said. "He was extremely disrespectful to my girlfriend and all of my campaign supporters the whole time. He exploited every loophole in the elections and credentials rules to be rude throughout the entire process. So I told him exactly what I thought about that. I just needed to say it once just to let him know that I was disgusted with his behavior."

McMahon chose not to elaborate further on Eliahu's behavior.

Elections and Credentials Chair Steven Rupp said this election had more complaints than any election he had ever been a part of.

"The complaints all came from the fact that Sam's party was following the rules to a tee," Rupp said. "So, when they saw other parties not following the rules, they made complaints."

Alwahaidy was banned from the election floor from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday for three violations of SA election rules, Rupp said.

He said candidates were not allowed to campaign until they had officially met with Rupp. Alwahaidy had set up his campaign Facebook page prior to this meeting, so he was assessed a one-hour penalty.

All candidates are responsible for those who are campaigning and actively supporting them, according to the rules, Rupp said.

On Monday, one of Alwahaidy's supporters had entered the voting area and campaigned, a violation of the election rules. He was warned to stop, but he was caught two more times and Alwahaidy was assessed another one-hour penalty.

On Tuesday, Rupp said one of Alwahaidy's supporters bribed a student with a $3 gift card to Dunkin' Donuts to vote for Alwahaidy. Rupp said this was done in front of him and the other candidates. Rupp added that even if it was a joke, it was still a violation. Alwahaidy was assessed an additional two-hour penalty, totaling the four hours.

"I respect [McMahon]," Alwahaidy said. "He's a good guy. When we were out there, I had a lot of problems with a lot of his people. We were bitter at it. Sam [was] classy the whole way. I wasn't too worried if I won or not because I was willing to give up a few things. It's [the students'] loss, not mine."

McMahon said he's excited to start implementing the goals he promised in his platform - like creating a holiday bus system to take students to and from the airport around school breaks.

McMahon has already priced the project and plans to use money left in the president's project line of the SA budget. He hopes to have the bus times available for students within a week.

Selsky and Treasurer Siddhant Chhabria said they're ready to work with McMahon.

"We are ready to hit the ground running," Selsky said. "It should be a smooth transition. He does have a good foundation and knows a lot of the details [of SA]."

McMahon is happy the process is over and is ready to start his presidency.

"He's jumping in head first," Chhabria said. "We asked what time he would be in the office tomorrow, and he said, 'What time does the office open?'"

Joe Konze Jr. contributed reporting to this story.