Gator Party seizes first executive ticket, grabs more Senate seats

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Election Feature

Trevor Pope, a 22-year-old UF law student and the UF Student Government president-elect, grabs ahold of Lauredan Official, a 21-year-old UF advertising junior and the vice president-elect, after finding out election results that were announced at the Reitz Union Wednesday night. 

Student Body President-elect Trevor Pope’s face flushed red as he gripped his running mate Vice-President-elect Lauredan Official when they were announced as election winners. The pair jumped, held each other and screamed. It was the ending they wanted. 

Pope, Official and Student Body Treasurer-elect Jessica Jesurajan were enveloped with hugs and congratulations. 

“I’m feeling like this is a dream, honestly,” Jesurajan said. “Yeah, I actually honestly can’t believe that just happened. It is a dream come true.”

Gator Party won its first executive ticket since its inception in Fall 2019 on Tuesday and Wednesday. There were 11,128 ballots cast, said the UF Student Government Supervisor of Elections Stephanie Siler. Tuesday had the second-highest first-day turnout in the last decade.

Pope and Official won with 6,309 votes or 57.3 percent. Jesurajan won with 6,336 votes or 57.86 percent. 

Students voted on candidates for Student Body president, vice president and treasurer and 50 Senate seats divided by college. Despite a promising start for Inspire Party when it won 26 seats in Fall –– Inspire couldn’t hold onto its success. 

Gator delivered this semester, winning the majority with 30 Senate seats. This election’s Senate seats were divided by college and school year. Senators and executives serve one-year terms. 

Students also voted not to pass an amendment with 24 SG constitutional revisions to the Student Body constitution that would’ve changed parts of the governing document.

The constitutional amendment was not approved, largely because the votes from people who selected “abstain” were counted as “no” votes. One revision would have made it easier to get future amendments to pass by lowering the percentage of “yes” votes required to pass legislation. 

This revision would also not have counted people who chose to abstain from voting for amendments as a “no.” The constitutional amendment this election was not approved, largely because the number of people who abstained from voting for it was counted as “no” votes.

Many Gator senators-elect were previously affiliated with the former majority party, Impact Party. Last semester, Inspire’s Student Body presidential candidate co-filed a resolution to impeach the current Impact-affiliated Student Body President Michael Murphy after emails surfaced of his communication with a campaign official about bringing Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle to campus.

Both parties focused on student safety in their platforms after students marched last Fall down Fraternity Drive, the only area on campus without blue lights, demanding UF SG and administration install the emergency phones there. Inspire said it supported the movement after speaking with student organizers and included blue lights on its Fall platform.

SG elections

SG Supervisor of Elections Stephanie Siler announces the election results to Gator Party and Inspire Party Wednesday night.

Before results were announced, Nick Meyer, a Senate candidate for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said no matter what, Gator gave its all this campaign season. He said he was feeling cautiously optimistic before the results were announced. Meyer lost his candidacy for a Senate seat, and all seven Liberal Arts and Sciences seats went to Inspire.

“They have wonderful candidates on their side; we have wonderful candidates on our side,” Meyer said. “No matter what happens tonight, our university will be well represented.”

Now that he’s been elected, bipartisanship is one of the first things Cooper Brown said he wants to work on as a senator in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Brown and two other Gator members won the seats from the college.

“Real bipartisanship comes when we just put all the politics aside and sit down and have conversations with each other,” Brown said. “That’s when real change and real ideas get to happen.”

Even before Inspire’s Matthew Barocas lost the treasurer seat, along with the others on his executive ticket, he was teary eyed. His roommate and best friend Angelo Sciabarassi won a Senate seat to represent the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering with Inspire. The minority party won three of the four engineering seats. 

Matthew Diaz and his running mate Emily Hyden, a leader in the blue lights protest, also lost. Diaz and Hyden received 4,646 votes or 42.19 percent. Barocas got 4,573 votes or 41.76 percent. 

Election 2

The Inspire Party executive ticket, consisting of Matthew Barocas, a 20-year-old UF history and political science junior, Emily Hyden, a 21-year-old UF international studies junior, and Matthew Diaz, a 22-year-old UF political science senior, listen for the SG election results Wednesday night. Barocas ran for treasurer, Hyden for vice president and Diaz for president.

Barocas has known Sciabarassi since kindergarten. He said he felt more emotional about Sciabarassi’s win than his own loss.

“I’m doing OK. I’ve been through this before,” he said, referring to when he lost the Senate seat to represent Hume Hall in Fall 2018. 

He said he knew he wasn’t going to be the future treasurer seat when Inspire lost all the seats representing sophomores.

Earlier in the night, members of Inspire gathered around the pond at the Reitz Union. Some danced while they waited. Others finished homework and quizzes as they watched Gator chant “G-A-T-O-R, Gator Party that’s who we are” and march into the union.

Inspire Presidential candidate Diaz sat a few levels down from the congregation before the election. He ate a Subway sandwich, his first meal after campaigning all day.

“Food is the first thing to go for me when I get really stressed out,” he said.

Diaz said he would continue to advocate for campus safety measures and racial and gender equity. 

“It’s always sad to see when there’s so much optimism going into something, and then it kind of gets crushed out,” he said.

Chasity Maynard, Meghan McGlone, Hannah Phillips and Kaelyn Cassidy contributed to this report.