Impact executive ticket wins, splits senate seats with Inspire

Michael Murphy, the 21-year-old Impact Party presidential candidate, celebrates winning the Student Government executive election Wednesday in the Reitz Union. He defeated Zachariah Chou, the 21-year-old Inspire candidate, 6,331 votes to 4,196. "I just can't wait to sit down for a little bit and just take it all in," Murphy said.

 

Amid a crowd of people, Michael Murphy stood away from the cheers and the congratulations.

All that mattered was his 12-year-old sister, Molly.

Feet away from those who bore his name on their T-shirts, he stood holding his sister, her legs wrapped around his torso, as tears streamed down both of their reddened faces.

The monthlong fight between Impact Party and Inspire Party was over. Murphy, Impact’s candidate, will be the next UF Student Body president.

Murphy had his moment before he, and Impact’s vice presidential and treasurer candidates, Sarah Abraham and Santiago Gutierrez, were avalanched by a flurry of hugs and congratulations.

“The students ultimately showed that they, once again, trust the Impact Party to voice their concerns to the university,” Murphy said.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, 10,708 students voted for the Student Body president, vice president, treasurer and 41 contested Senate seats in the Student Government elections.

Murphy and Abraham won 59.7 percent of the votes while Inspire Student Body presidential elect Zachariah Chou and Inspire Student Body vice presidential candidate Gouthami “Gigi” Gadamsetty won 39.57 percent of the votes.

Impact won 29 Senate seats and Inspire won 21 seats.

Last year, Impact also won the executive ticket and the majority of Senate seats.

Last Friday, The Alligator released an article in regards to finding homophobic and racially insensitive posts on Murphy’s Facebook from 2011 to 2016. Homophobic posts were also found on the Facebook pages of Gutierrez and Abraham.

Each candidate apologized, and the posts have since been deleted.

The controversy of the past week did not dull the spirits of the Impact Party on Wednesday night.

As the lights brightened Turlington Plaza, a roar could be heard from the horde gathered in the middle.

“I-M-P! A-C-T! Impact is for you and me!”

This refrain continued over and over until the crowd of more than 70 people in light blue and white shirts reached the Reitz Union to learn their fate after a month of campaigning.

“Regardless of tonight, win or lose, you guys are always going to have a place within the Impact Party, and we are always going to love you,” said Emily Dempsey, Impact Party campaign manager.

When the crowd reached the Reitz Union, Murphy’s grandparents distributed mini cupcakes with a green icing gator and Impact Party flag planted by a toothpick.

Murphy said the snowstorm on the east coast made his family drive 11 hours instead of fly from Fairfax, Virginia. The family helped campaign on the last day of elections in addition to observing the results.

Sarah Abraham became the first Indian American elected to be Student Body vice president in UF’s history.

But she was nervous going into the results.

“I was praying, honestly,” Abraham said.

When Gutierrez won, he was immediately swarmed by fellow Impact members.

Although his family wasn’t present, his family texted him: “We’re so proud of you, mijo.”

He said he comes from a low-income family, so he will most likely keep his salary. Abraham and Murphy said they had not decided what they would do with their salaries.

The president’s salary is about $10,000, and the vice president’s and treasurer’s salaries are about $8,000.

As Fair walked in to give the results, Inspire executive candidates Chou and Gadamsetty and Inspire Party President Ashley Grabowski huddled together. Minutes later, they learned they lost the election.

Grabowski was elated to learn Inspire won a third of the Senate, breaking the party’s record for Senate seats, she said.

“There’s this assumption that independent parties die over time, and we’ve proved that’s not true,” Grabowski said.

Before the announcement of the winning candidates, Chou sat quietly and performed his ritual at Senate meetings of setting up livestream equipment.

Joachim sat in a chair away from the crowds, listening to tunes such as “Die for You” by the Weeknd and “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna through his headphones.

He said he struggles with anxiety, which is why he chose to separate himself and calm down before the results were announced.

“Sleeping and eating is something I haven’t done in two weeks straight,” Joachim said.

While Joachim and Chou quietly reflected in preparation of the results being announced, Gadamsetty spent the moment chatting with Inspire Party friends.

Gadamsetty said this year’s campaigning connected the party with students more than ever before.

The Alligator’s Editorial Board referred to Chou as a “human meme” in its endorsement of Inspire because he is known for his use of “Swampy UF memes for top ten public teens” to connect with students.

“We took the human meme and made it our own. We used costumes, we got the attention of students,” Gadamsetty said.

As the team listened to Fair announce the new executive ticket, they stood in a moment of silence together.

Impact executive ticket wins, splits senate seats with Inspire

Zachariah Chou, the 21-year-old Inspire Party Student Body presidential candidate, waits on the results Wednesday for the UF student government elections in the Reitz Union. Chou lost the presidential race to Michael Murphy, the Impact Party Student Body presidential candidate, 4,196 votes to 6,331 votes. 

 

After they digested the news, Chou remained stoic and Joachim reflected alone on the steps of concrete where the party gathered outside before. Gadamsetty remained energetic, chatting with members of the crowd, full of hope and pride.

R. Matthew Barocas ran for an Inspire seat in the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences this election, after losing the Hume seat last semester.

As Fair announced the college’s newly elected senators, Barocas’ eyes quickly reddened, and he called his parents and sister almost immediately to share the good news.

“I really care about the humanities here at UF,” Barocas said. “Especially because I know we’re a STEM-heavy school, I ran so I could be an advocate for students who aren’t.”

He said he planned on celebrating the win by going to Steak ‘n Shake with other Inspire members, per tradition.

Despite Inspire’s executive ticket loss, Chou said he has hope. He will remain a senator for Murphree Area. But after the election, he will munch on a garlic steakburger from Steak ‘n Shake with his team.

“I'll just keep on doing what I've been doing,” Chou said. “Advocacy is my life. Public service is my life. And it doesn't end here tonight.”

Alligator staff writers Hannah Beatty, Lakshmi Gomez, Mikayla Carroll and Kelly Hayes contributed to this report.

Hannah Beatty is a third-year journalism major and sociology minor from Jacksonville, Florida. She began at the Alligator in the fall of 2018 as a general assignment staff writer and now serves as the student government beat reporter.

Kelly Hayes is a journalism and political science junior at the University of Florida. Before becoming a staff writer at The Alligator, she wrote as a contributor, and also as the marketing intern for The Florida Museum of Natural History.

Mikayla Carroll is a first-year journalism major from West Palm Beach, Florida. She first began at The Alligator in the Fall of 2018 as a copy editor and is now a university news staff writer.