R.E.A.L. Party wins SA election

Three times more students voted in this year's elections than in most recent unopposed race

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It was no nail-biter, but elections for the 2018-2019 Student Association executive board still managed to bring over 650 students out to vote. The turnout is an improvement since the last time an SA e-board ran unopposed in 2015 when only 217 students voted.

Elections coordinator Jacob Brown announced the R.E.A.L party’s victory on Thursday in the SA office after a three-day election. Presidential candidate Gunnar Haberl, junior political science and legal studies major, and vice presidential candidate Anyssa Evelyn, junior health and human services major, received 614 votes. Treasurer candidate Tanahiry Escamilla, junior chemical and biological engineering major, received 515 of the total 657 votes, as students were allowed to vote for the presidential ticket without voting for a treasurer.

Brown said he’s satisfied with the turnout considering the race was uncontested, and thinks it showed the candidates are dedicated to involving the student body.

The R.E.A.L party initially faced opposition to the United People’s Party, but was the last party standing as the U.P.P dropped out of the race on March 15 and cited “unforeseen circumstances.”

Evelyn said she thinks students were motivated to vote because of the party’s plan to “implement realistic goals.”

The party ran on a platform advocating to “restore effective, accountable leadership.” Their platform included working to improve mental-health care on campus, addressing clubs finding spaces on campus and helping club members better understand their budgets.

Haberl said he wants to thank the student body for coming out to vote for the R.E.A.L party despite the uncontested election.

“It really means a lot to the three of us that [students] showed support and were that confident in our goals for next year and the SA,” Haberl said.

The newly elected e-board has already started the implementation of one of their campaign promises, Haberl said. In a previous interview, Haberl said he wanted to take the SA job application off UBlinked and put it directly onto the SA website to make it more accessible to students.

“I’m proud to say that’s going to be accomplished, Anyssa and Tanahiry had the chance to look over it, and the [job application] will be on the SA website tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.,” Haberl said.

Treasurer-elect Escamilla, current engineering council coordinator, said she is going to be looking to get a head start for next year by working with current treasurer Janet Austin over the next few weeks.

Austin told The Spectrum she is confident in the R.E.A.L party and said she thinks SA is going to be in “really great hands” next year.

“I’m very excited for them. They are going to do well,” Austin said.

SA President Leslie Veloz offered a neutral response when asked if students elected the most qualified party for the job.

“UB has a beautifully diverse and expansive student body that is passionate about advocacy on campus,” Veloz said in an email. “The reality is that the R.E.A.L party ran uncontested, therefore it is unfair to come to that conclusion given that the student body had no other pool of talent to choose from.”

Veloz added that she thinks Haberl and Escamilla’s SA experience will make for a smooth transition into their new positions.

“Both the President and Treasurer come with SA experience which will really help them ease into their new roles,” Veloz said.

Correction: The original article stated "SA President Leslie Veloz offered a neutral response when asked if students elected a qualified party for the job."

Haruka Kosugi is an assistant news editor and can be reached at haruka.kosugi@ubspectrum.com and @KosugiSpec.