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Sunday, May 19, 2024

With loud cheers and lit cigars, Gator Party candidates celebrated their near-sweep of the fall Student Government election early Thursday morning.

Sarah Krantz, supervisor of elections, announced shortly after midnight that the Gator Party, which already controls the executive branch and about half the Student Senate, had taken all but three of the 47 Senate seats up for grabs.

Though the Gator Party took 44 seats, the Progress Party candidate Ben Cavataro won the Hume seat.

District E and Corry Village did not have candidates on the ballot.

More than 3,000 students voted Wednesday, bringing the two-day total to almost 7,000 votes. The turnout was lower than last fall's turnout, according to Alligator archives.

Krantz also announced that one referendum question on the ballot was approved while one was voted down.

The Gator Party's reaction Thursday was similar to its reaction during the spring election, when the party won all but one seat.

The results brought raucous cheers from about 75 orange-and-blue-clad Gator Party candidates and supporters packed closely together outside the Orange &Brew.

Each successive announcement of a Gator victory drew another round of shouting.

Several candidates lit cigars in celebration, while others spent several minutes hugging and hive-fiving each other.

While the Gator Party celebrated, about 25 Progress Party candidates and supporters cheered over their own victory.

"We won a seat!" they chanted.

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Between constant congratulatory interruptions, Gator Party President Yooni Yi said the landslide victory was not a completed surprise in light of the hard work she said her party put in.

"We were out there campaigning sooner than anybody else," Yi said. "From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. we worked hard, and it showed."

She attributed the Gator Party's success to the party's diverse group of candidates.

"I think our candidates reached out to a lot of different students," Yi said.

Gator Party candidates, both incumbents and first-time senators, could barely contain their excitement, shouting and pumping their fists.

"I really can't explain it in words," said Kevin Reilly, the current Senate president pro-tempore who was reelected and will serve a second term representing District B.

"Having students re-elect me really means a lot."

Michael Ramsey, who won seat representing District A, was elected to serve his first term.

"I'm very excited," Ramsey said. "It's a sigh of relief. Now it's time to prove critics wrong, those people who think SG doesn't do much."

Sam Miorelli, Progress Party chief counsel, said he's happy with one seat.

"As far as I'm concerned, every seat that does not go to the Gator Party is a victory," Miorelli said before the results were announced.

While Krantz announced the results, Progress Party candidates and supporters swayed and nodded as Krantz announced victory after victory for Gator.

"C'mon, Sarah, give me one!" Miorelli shouted.

Krantz then announced that Progress won the Hume seat.

After the results were announced, Miorelli said he was happy with the Hume seat because it was the end to single-party rule in the Senate.

He also said the Progress Party would be running again in the spring election.

Miorelli said the Gator Party would still have to answer a complaint he filed against its Hume candidate, Mike Fetto, at an Elections Commission hearing today. He said he also filed five other complaints against the Gator Party before the election results were announced.

The Gator Party's celebratory mood was similar to the atmosphere prior to the announcement.

Party candidates gathered at the Swamp Restaurant around 8 p.m. to count down the hours until the announcement.

"We're just really excited to hear the results," Reilly said over the booming music. "We had a lot of great candidates who did their best to show the student body what they're all about."

Around 11:30 p.m., the Gator Party marched toward the Orange & Brew, chanting, "It's great to vote the Gator Party."

Before Krantz announced the election results, Miorelli said Progress Party candidates took some time to unwind after a stressful campaign.

"I told my candidates to go home, take a shower, relax, have some dinner and do some homework," he said.

The party then met to eat pizza at Miorelli's condominium around 9 p.m. before driving to the Orange & Brew. Miorelli said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the impending announcement and hoped to win six seats.

After Krantz announced the results early Thursday, she said the election ran smoothly.

There were no problems at the polling locations and relatively few problems between the parties, she said.

"There were no problems, no issues, no battles," Krantz said. "I found both parties to be very respectable and responsible."

Seventy-five percent of students who voted chose to support an SG-funded, student-run coffee shop on campus.

But 52 percent shot down the referendum asking students whether UF should provide funds for a student-run homeless shelter in Gainesville.

Newly elected senators will be confirmed by the Elections Commission on Thursday and sworn in at Tuesday's Senate meeting, she added.

Yi said the Gator Party would enjoy the victory but would not party for long.

Senators will start getting down to business at Tuesday's Senate meeting, she said.

Some platform goals they plan to start working on include creating a sustainability minor.

Having almost complete control over the Senate might help these goals get accomplished faster, she said, though she thinks the party's passion will be the determining factor, she added.

"I feel like these senators are going to get it done and they're going to push it through passionately," Yi said.

But Thursday night was reserved for celebrating, and the Gator Party showed no signs of slowing down.

"We're going to enjoy celebrating for now," Yi said.

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