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Friday, July 01, 2022

SG elections this week will determine 50 new senators and executive ticket

More than 100 students applied for 50 open Senate Seats

Student Government SG Generic
Student Government SG Generic

On Tuesday and Wednesday, students can elect 50 Senators and the Student Body President, Vice President and Treasurer, at eight polling locations across campus. 

More than 100 candidates, including two independents, will run to represent the Gator, Change and Communist parties in 50 Senate seats, which are organized by college and year Change and Gator parties also have candidates running for the executive ticket, which includes the Student Body President, Vice President and Treasurer.

Polling locations will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. The locations are the J. Wayne Reitz Union Computer Printing Lab, Health Science Center Library, Norman Hall Educational Library, Southwest Recreation Center, Springs Library and Recreation Room, Broward Recreation Room, Levin School of Law and Heavener Room 202.

Gator Party has 48 candidates running for Senate and holds 72 seats in Senate. Change Party has 46 candidates running for Senate and holds eight seats in Senate. 

Last Spring elections, the Gator Party won a supermajority of 46 Senate seats and the executive ticket. Cooper Brown is Student Body President, Faith Maniti is Vice President and Giovanna Mompremier is Treasurer. 

The executive ticket and Senators serve one-year terms.

The Change Party hopes to increase their presence in Senate by filling at least a third of seats, presidential candidate and Senate Minority Leader Gabrielle Adekunle (Change, District D) said. 

Gator Party released its platform last week, which features 17 points like adding ice machines to dorms, handing out free shakers during football games and more resources during Sexual Health Awareness Week. 

Change Party released a 12-point platform in January followed by a college-specific platform last week. Points include free or reduced testing fees like the MCAT, expanding blue light kiosks on campus and pursuing online voting systems. 

During the annual SG debate last week, the executive tickets of both parties debated platform points in an hour-long conversation moderated by UF alum Marna Weston. 

The two parties share common ground in some points like support for resources in the Counseling and Wellness Center and bus services like a graduate student route and Later Gator service. 

Representing the Gator Party in the bid for executive ticket are Lauren Lemasters for Student Body President, Daniel Badell for vice president and Sierra Kantamneni for treasurer.

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Lemasters, a 21-year-old from Jacksonville, studies criminology, psychology and leadership in her fourth year at UF. She serves as Chief of Staff to Student Body President Brown and is a member of the sorority Alpha Delta Pi. 

Badell, a 21-year-old political science, international studies and economics student, has created a living learning community and leadership program for first-generation students on campus. Through involvement in organizations like the Hispanic Student Association and SG, where he serves as Transition Division Chair, he said he found his place at UF.  

Kantamneni also felt a sense of belonging through SG and on-campus organizations. The 21-year-old information systems junior serves as Chief of Staff to Vice President Maniti and is a member of the sorority Gamma Eta and the Indian Students Association.

Adekunle will be the face of the Change Party’s executive ticket as the presidential candidate. Dayanna Peek will run for Vice president and Kenya Warner for Treasurer.

Adekunle, 21, studies political science and business administration and leads eight Change Senators as the Minority Party Leader in the Senate. Adekunle also founded Take Action Florida, an organization for activism.

Peek, 20, is an international studies and public relations student who founded UF’s first gender-neutral housing option, the Lavender living learning community. They served as the Change party’s deputy social media director last Spring and work at The Top in downtown Gainesville. 

Warner, 20, studies computer science and has served as the party’s treasurer for three semesters. She also works with Swamp Records, a record label company, to promote local artists and curate Spotify playlists. 

Two students are running for Senate seats without a party.

Diane Episcopio-Sturgeon, 31, is a UF PhD student studying wildlife conservation who is running for a graduate Senate seat as an independent. She was not familiar enough with either party to align herself but wants to protect natural spaces on campus like the McCarty Woods, which might be destroyed for future construction, she said. 

“Knowing that I had the flexibility and ability to possibly run for this position, to help represent those that might not have time or might not have the ability, was something I was really interested in,” she said. 

John Pfingsten also enjoys leadership, which he experienced through UF’s ROTC program.

The 22-year-old aerospace engineering senior is running as an independent Senator for one of the College of Engineering’s four seats. He believes engineers bring a valuable skill to problem-solving, he said. 

Pfingsten felt connected with groups on campus in his engineering program and ROTC, but he couldn’t pinpoint one thing that unites the entire UF community, he said. 

“I don't really agree on having to decide between a party,” he said. “What makes us, specifically, Gators? I wanted to run on that premise to answer that question.”

When students are elected, Senate Pro-Tempore Noah Fineberg (Gator, District A) hopes they realize the value of their leadership and representing the student body, he wrote in an email.

“The whole point of having elections is to ensure that the people making decisions on behalf of the student body reflect the interests of the students,” Fineberg wrote. “Decisions are made by those who show up.”

Contact Maia Botek Contact her on Twitter @BotekMaia.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that students will vote on an executive ticket. The Alligator previously reported that an Executive Cabinet could be voted on. UF Student Government's Executive Cabinet is made up of the publicly-elected Student Body Vice President and four cabinet directors.

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Maia Botek

Maia Botek is a third-year journalism major and Spanish minor covering student government this semester. Maia is from South Florida and enjoys the beach, spending time with her friends and learning about the environment in her free time.

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