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Friday, July 01, 2022

Gator Party wins Executive Ticket, 44 Senate seats in Spring SG elections

Supervisor of Elections Alexandra Stedman announced the Gator Party victory at 9:50 p.m. in the Reitz Union

Members of Gator and Change Parties await Student Government election results on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at the Reitz Union.
Members of Gator and Change Parties await Student Government election results on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at the Reitz Union.

Change Party and Gator Party members crowded on the basement floor of the Reitz Union Wednesday as they eagerly waited for results. 

By 10 p.m., Gator Party seized the Executive Branch and grasped the majority of Senate seats for the third consecutive year. 

More than 9,000 students cast their ballots by Wednesday, a 37% increase from last Spring’s 6,650 total ballots.

Gator won 44 Senate seats, two less than last year, while Change won five, two more than last year. Senate will vote on which party will fill one liberal arts and sciences seat, which is tied at 877 votes for both candidates.

Gator gained nine Senate seats this election, Noah Fineberg, Senate Pro-Tempore (Gator, District A), wrote in a text message. The party widened their Senate supermajority to 81 seats.

Change gained five seats and now holds 13, Cassidy Campbell, Change Party President, wrote in a text message.

Students cast 5,893 ballots for Gator Party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates compared with 3,131 ballots for Change’s. 

The Gator and Change Party candidates for treasurer received 5,730 and 3,185 votes, respectively. 

Lauren Lemasters will serve as the new Student Body President, Daniel Badell as vice president and Sierra Kantamneni as treasurer. 

Last election, Gator won 37 seats and Change won 12. Last Spring elections, Gator Party won 46 seats and Change won three.

“I just got to see our team go out and work so hard for the students and show how much they care just throughout this campaign,” Lemasters said. “I feel like everything on our platform is so important, and I'm really excited about it.”

Results were announced by Supervisor of Elections Alexandra Stedman in the Reitz Union just after 9:50 p.m. The announcement concluded two days of voting, where students could vote in eight on-campus polling locations from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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“This is definitely a bit of a change than previous years, when the second day has a pretty even amount of votes,” Stedman said. “It was almost a 50/50 split, which was awesome. That means a lot of voters were able to come out today, get their voice heard, get their vote in, and that's really all I strive to do.” 

At around 8:45 p.m., roughly 100 Gator Party ambassadors entered the Reitz Union alongside the executive ticket candidates chanting for the party. Change Party members entered the Reitz chanting a few minutes later. A handful of Communist Party members walked through the area.

Students chanted “G-A-T-O-R,” and the crowd was divided by white “Lead with Lauren” shirts and tan Change Party shirts. More than a hundred students gathered on the ground floor of the Reitz Union and gazed at the grand staircase to hear Stedman announce.

Some of the first things Gator Party executive candidates want to do in office include building a strong relationship with administration, educating about SG resources and working with the Brown Center for Leadership & Service.

Badell wants to work on increasing how students interact with the Executive Cabinet, a collection of chairs led by the Student Body vice president. 

“It's not just a place for events, it’s a place to engage in long term initiatives and long term projects within the university and conversations with admin,” he said. “That's the groundwork that I'm going to leave very, very early on.”

Lemasters currently serves as the Chief of Staff to Student Body President Cooper Brown and Kantamneni serves as Chief of Staff to Vice President Faith Maniti. Badell is the Transition Division Chair and founded a residential hall for first-generation students.  

This semester, Gator Party focused on platform points like a bus route for graduate students, free noise shakers at football games, ice machines in dorms and adding a golf simulator to RecSports. 

During the annual SG debate, the platform highlighted previous successes like updates to DocuTraq, the financial system that student organizations use to track SG funding requests. 

Despite the Change Party’s loss for the executive ticket, the party will continue to work on initiatives like a hub for mental health in the Reitz Union, blue lights on campus and increased resources for sexual health and sexual assault prevention, said presidential candidate Gabrielle Adekunle. 

“Everything on our platform we're already working toward,” Adekunle said. “I’m excited to get it done, whether it has to happen inside of Senate or outside of Senate.”

Change Party’s platform focused on accessibility, safety and sustainability. Points include re-establishing the Later Gator bus service and 24-hour library access, increasing blue lights on campus and adding meal-prep vending machines for students.

Tara Waldron, an 18-year-old undecided freshman, voted for Gator Party, and supported the party’s initiatives for Greek organizations, though she did not give a specific platform point she supported and is not yet a member of a Greek organization.

“I think I liked what they were doing for the sororities in Greek life,” she said. “I'm rushing next semester.”

Dylan Carman, a 21-year-old chemical engineering junior who is also dating the Change Party’s vice president Grace Shoemaker, also supported college-specific points. As an engineering student, he could benefit from Change’s initiatives to add more charging ports in libraries and increase supplies available to rent like chargers and calculators, he said.

Carman also feels like Change Party’s candidates are more interested in the work they are doing, he said. 

“The people who are currently in Senate are more there because it's a good look for them, and it's a good notch on their resume,” he said. “When I've talked to someone from Change, they have a passion project.”

On March 1, Senate will meet to validate the election results.

Alligator staff writers Maia Botek, Lucille Lannigan, Fernando Figueroa and Greg Ruiz-Perez contributed to this report.

This article has been updated to reflect the accurate number of seats Gator Party's Senate supermajority widened to. The Alligator previously reported 82.

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