Campus LifeElections 2020NewsNews

Students’ Union Election Results 2020

The voter turnout for this election was 24.6 per cent — higher than last year

President

With 52 per cent of the vote, the next Students’ Union president is Joel Agarwal.

Agarwal, a sixth-year biology student and current vice-president (academic), won in the second round of voting.

Helen Zhang

In his acceptance speech, Agarwal acknowledged his opponent Luke Statt, fifth-year business student and current vice-president (operations and finance), as well as the trying times facing students. 

“Luke, my brother. You ran a great campaign, I really love you and we worked so hard this year,” Agarwal said. “I won’t sleep until students’ voices are heard. We’re heading into tumultuous times — hard times— but I’m optimistic we’re going to be making strides towards a better year.”

Statt received 32 per cent of votes. Yiming Chen received 11 per cent of votes. 16 per cent voted none of the above.

For Agarwal, the first step in his presidency will be taking a moment to sit back and take in his victory. 

“I think it’s going to take some time to sink into [reality], but I want to take it in and understand that we’re here,” he said. “[I’ll be] working with the vice-presidents and figuring out what’s coming next.”

Statt said that he was happy that him and Agarwal ran a clean campaign and said he was “very happy with the results.”

“Obviously I wish I won, I do like that students took in both perspectives and they chose to vote for the more traditional academic route,” Statt said, “I will be sharing my best ideas with Joel for him to implement next year hopefully.”

Now that his current Students’ Union position is coming to an end, Statt said he will be finishing the last classes of his degree and will be looking for a position in the non-profit sector.

Candidate Yiming Chen, third-year international student and current arts councillor on Students’ Council, said the campaign trail was good and she ultimately did what she aimed to do. 

“I came here to be seen and to advocate for my communities,” she said. “No matter the results, I achieved that goal.”

In terms of what’s next for Chen, she said she will be running for both General Faculties Council and OASIS vice-president (external). 

Khadra Ahmed

Vice-president (academic)

David Draper will be the next vice-president (academic).

Draper won with 62 per cent of the vote in the second round. No winner was found in the first round of voting with 6401 votes cast.

Draper, a third-year honour political science and sociology student and arts councillor for Students’ Council, said in his acceptance speech he was excited to get started.

“These past two weeks have been the busiest, hardest weeks in my life. I’ve literally gotten an actual hole in my shoe from this.” Draper said. “All of my friends and all the people who endorsed me; it’s so deeply humbling. I realize the work that I have done has made a difference, and the things that I can do to continue to make a difference for all students on campus.”

Helen Zhang

Draper’s first priority is to fill out all 40 seats in the General Faculties Council, the highest academic governing body of the university, and he has already signed three different nominations for students. If necessary, he hopes to create a task force to get those seats filled as early as possible. 

“We need to have a strong student movement this year, and I will be out there to make sure each seat is filled.” Draper said. 

For candidate Eric Einarson, fourth-year chemistry student and president of the Campus Saint-Jean faculty association AUFSJ, he stated that he no longer wants to be president of the Campus Saint-Jean faculty association AUFSJ, which he has held for about 18 months. However, he hopes to stay involved with governance at Campus Saint-Jean and run for the Campus Saint-Jean councillor position on Students’ Council. 

Einarson received 38 per cent of the votes.

“Being able to share why I got involved in student governance, why I care, I feel like students connected with that,” Einarson said. “For so long, student governance becomes an extension of student or federal governance. It means something more here at the U of A, it means that your voice matters.”

Jonathan Hocnalon

Vice-president (external)

Rowan Ley will be the next Students’ Union vice-president (external).

Ley, a fourth-year political science student and current Board of Governors representative, won in the second round of voting with 51 per cent of the vote.

Helen Zhang

Before announcing the results, Muneeb Ahsan, the Chief Returning Officer, said this vice-president (external) race “was the closest it has been in recent memory.” Robert Bilak received 49 per cent of votes — a difference of 151 votes.

In his acceptance speech, Ley said they put the campaign together at the last minute with a “skeleton crew.”

“That really speaks to the incredible dedication, devotion and loyalty of all of my volunteers, I wish I could name them all tonight, but all I want to say is I will never be able to thank you enough for the blood, sweat and tears you put into this campaign,” he said.

He also thanked his opponent Robert Bilak, fourth-year political science student and speaker of Students’ Council, who “has been with [him] for much of [his] university career.” He added that Bilak ran an “amazing” campaign and will “make us all jealous of an amazing career as a lawyer.”

Bilak said he plans to attend the University of Ottawa Law School starting in the fall.

“I decided to apply as a backup plan and I got in, so, we’re off,” he said.

He said his campaign was “good,” adding that it was “nice to not run against an incumbent.” He said he is looking forward to seeing what Ley will do.

“He’s my boy, I’ve known him for years, and I wish him the best of luck,” he said.

In a later interview, Ley said his campaign was “rough.” He said he was very sick during the first week of the campaign and spent a day at the hospital. 

“There were some challenges that we overcame, but it really speaks to the fact that I have an amazing team of people who care a lot and gave 150 per cent of their best effort. That’s the only reason that we were successful, so I have a lot to thank them for,” he said. 

He also thanked all the students who voted for him, adding that we are going into a “very difficult time” with ups and downs, but he said he is “always going to be giving 150 per cent for them.”

He said his first order of business when he takes office is to meet the important stakeholders, including the minister, leaders from different groups on campus, faculty associations and Student Representation Associations to start the organizing “that [he] promised to do during the campaign.” He added he will be meeting with the marketing department to discuss the provincial marketing campaign “that we discussed during the election.”

He said while he can’t make promises, he hopes they will “get some big advocacy wins for students this year.”

“While things might seem a little bit hopeless right now, I hope by the end of the year, they’ll see things turning in a positive direction,” he said. 

Kate Turner

Vice-president (operations and finance)

The next vice-president (operations and finance) will be Alana Krahn.

Krahn, fourth-year business economics and law student, won with 55 per cent of the vote in the second round.

“If you had told me a year ago that I’d be doing this I would have told you you were crazy,” Krahn said in her victory speech. “Thank you to everybody who tapped me on the shoulder and told me the Students’ Union was worth it — the students were worth it.” 

Helen Zhang

Krahn says that once she’s moved “some of [her] houseplants into the office,” she hopes to begin building relationships with the other executives. The first item on her agenda will be increasing mental health coverage and support under the SU Health and Dental Plan.

Samantha Tse, Krahn’s opponent for the position, declined to comment. 

Tse received 45 per cent of votes.

Olivia DeBourcier

Vice-president (student life)

Katie Kidd, fourth-year student in secondary education and education councillor for Students’ Council, will be the next vice-president (student life) after winning 53 per cent of the vote.

She won in the second round of voting after no winner was found.

“I would like to thank my mom… because she was here almost every day even though she lives in Calgary,” Kidd said in her acceptance speech. “I just want to be a teacher and change the way students live on campus.”

Helen Zhang

As soon as she enters into her role, Kidd said she will not be wasting any time on her executing her campaign promises. 

“We need to start empowering survivors [of sexual assault] to the dean of students [to show] how he’s failed them by not getting that sexual violence prevention coordinator hired,” she said. “[I’m going to] get resident associations prepared for their incoming first-years and make sure they get the proper training from the peer support centre.”

The experience along the campaign trail for Kidd was the “most tiring and best experience of my life.”

For Talia Dixon, third-year student double majoring in women’s and gender studies and political science and arts councillor for Students’ Council, this is not the end of her career in student politics. She talked about potentially running for Student’s Council, having a “good” experience along the campaign trail.

Dixon received 47 per cent of votes.

“I guess I’m going to run for council and keep trucking on,” Dixon said.  

Haley Dang

Board of Governors representative

Dave Konrad won with 59 per cent of the vote in second round of voting.

Helen Zhang

Konrad, second-year bachelor of environmental and conservation sciences student majoring in human dimensions of environmental management and ALES councillor on Students’ Council, mentioned that the first thing he’ll do upon taking office is to work on transitioning with former BoG representative Rowan Ley, while also consulting with Akanksha Bhatnagar and incoming president Joel Agrawal to set out a course of action and “establish the priorities.”

Konrad stated that he was going to look at the Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Committee recommendations and the Aboriginal Student Council’s declarative points. 

He also intends to consult with faculty associations at least once or twice over the summer. 

Konrad mentioned that the campaign was stressful, yet a learning experience for him because he had “never done something like this before.”

“It is so exciting to have this opportunity to reach out to people and help problem solve at a personal level,” he said. 

Candidate Albert Hu, third-year medical student in the Doctor of Medicine (MD) undergraduate professional program, was not present and did not respond to requests for comment. 

Hu received 41 per cent of the vote.

Shaunak Mistry

Plebiscites

With 53 per cent of the vote, the Golden Bears and Pandas Legacy Fund did not pass. 3980 ballots were cast against the fund while only 3115 supported it.

With 55 per cent of the vote, The Landing passed. It received 4151 votes in favour while 2864 voted no.

Representatives from The Landing and the Golden Bears and Pandas Legacy Fund declined to comment.

Students’ Union Sustainability and Capital Fund referendum

With 48 per cent of the vote, the Students’ Union Sustainability and Capital Fund passed.

3604 votes were cast in favour of the referendum, while 3494 were against.

Akanksha Bhatnagar, current president of the Students’ Union, gave an acceptance speech on behalf of the referendum.

“I am so proud that this campus is the way that it is,” Bhatnagar said. “We finally get to do something incredible about our climate crisis.”

Helen Zhang

In her speech, Bhatnagar thanked the Students’ Union General Manager Marc Dumouchel for all his work on the project.

“I love you Marc,” she said. “He is the general manager that needs to take this plan to the next level.”

Bhatnagar said the Students’ Union made “history today.”

“When the SU goes carbon neutral, I am going to look back at this day and know that we did it.”

Adam Lachacz

Chief Returning Officer pleased with voter turnout

The official voter turnout was 24.6 per cent which translates to 7497 votes.

In 2019, the voter turnout was 23.9 per cent. The year before that it was 24.8 per cent. The faculties with highest voter turnout this year included Kinesiology, Sport & Recreation; Science; Engineering; Agricultural, Life, & Environmental and Life Science; and Business.

Muneeb Ahsan, Chief Returning Officer (CRO) in an interview with The Gateway, said he was “pleased” with the result.

“It was good to see a better result than last year,” he said.

Helen Zhang

This year was the first time a link to the election voting portal was put on eClass. The CRO said 60.8 per cent of votes cast this year were through that link.

Adam Lachacz

UPDATE: This article was updated at 10:25 a.m. on March 6 to reflect the detailed results provided by the Students’ Union.

Khadra Ahmed

Khadra is the Gateway's 2020-2021 News Editor, dedicated to providing intersectional news coverage on campus. She's a fifth-year student studying biology and women's and gender studies. While working for The Gateway, she continues the tradition of turning coffee into copy.

Adam Lachacz

Adam Lachacz is the Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway for 2020-21. Previously, he was the 2019-20 News Editor, 2018-19 Staff Reporter, and a senior volunteer contributor from 2016-18. He is a fourth-year student studying history and political science. Adam is addicted to the news, an aspiring sneakerhead, and loves a good cup of black coffee.

Kate Turner

Kate Turner is a second-year Native Studies student and was The Gateway’s Winter 2019 Staff Reporter. She is passionate about human rights, learning languages, and talking to people about their passions. When not furiously typing away, she usually can’t be found because she’s out exploring and having adventures.

Jonathan Hocnalon

Jonathan Hocnalon is a fourth-year immunology student. He believes everyone's got a story to share: it's just a matter of finding the right questions, knowing when to ask them, and listening respectfully.

Haley Dang

Haley Dang is a elementary education student who writes and takes photos for The Gateway. When there's no snow on the ground, she enjoys spending time in her garden growing petunias. As long as snow is falling, though, she’ll be hiding indoors with a cup of tea.

Olivia DeBourcier

Olivia deBourcier is in her third year of environmental and conservation sciences, and has spent the last year writing and illustrating for The Gateway. An avid lover of science communications, she would happily talk your ear off about animals, bugs, environmentalism, or which Star Wars movie is better, but she's usually find her running to a meeting she’s already late for.

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