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In an unprecedented tie-breaking special election held last night, Katie Burkhart was nominated as the fourth and final first-year College Council (CC) representative. It came after a tie for the spot between Burkhart and Angela Wang in Thursday’s general election, the first tie of its kind in open electoral history, according to fourth-year Interim CC Chair Jason Cigan.
Each candidate gave a five-minute speech and answered questions in front of the fifteen members of CC, which is composed of four students from each class. They then voted on who should be their 16th member. The event took place in the basement of Reynolds Club.
Although the vote totals weren’t released, it was a close race, according to Cigan.
“Both candidates told me it was a good thing to have this opportunity,” said Cigan, who presided over the special election. “Here you’re communicating directly to the people you’re going to be working with.”
Both Burkhart and Wang won 161 votes from a record turnout of 671 voters in Thursday’s election.
Unlike the regular election, when they tried to win votes with name recognition, both Wang and Burkhart tried to gain support for their stances regarding Student Government (SG) issues.
“Student Government should facilitate communication between RSOs,” said Burkhart, adding that SG could hand out hard copy lists of all RSOs to each incoming student and create a “suggestions” tab on the SG website.
She also called to increase the number of Safe Ride buses that drive through campus, which struck first-year CC representative Ben Yu as a good idea that would have wide appeal. “No one’s going to be against an additional Safe Ride bus,” said Yu, who came on top of Thursday’s election with 280 votes.
SG’s main priority should be towards building a unified student body at the University, Wang told CC. “Before we become a good representative government we need to become a community,” she said, adding that small things like green initiatives, pulling out staples on boards and adding smoothie machines in the dining halls can go a long way in spiking student appreciation.
Burkhart will join first-years Forrest Scofield and Alex Bennett, the two other winners in Thursday’s election besides Yu, as the Class of 2014’s College Council representatives.
Though the tie-breaker gave the candidates an opportunity to set themselves apart after an election where candidates had difficulty distinguishing themselves among the 20 people running, for second-year CC representative Travis Benaiges it highlighted the difficulty of developing a platform after only four weeks on campus.
“There’s only so much you can know about campus,” Benaiges said. “With first-years, running is a lot more personal.”
Wang said she recognized why Burkhart won the tie-breaker. “Katie was overall a better communicator,” said Wang, who felt that both presented good and often overlapping points. “She’s friendly and it’s easy to like her.”
Although Burkhart won the position, Wang still plans to work with Student Government. In addition to joining one of their committees, she was appointed Secretary for Council meetings at the end of the election.
“A lot of work with College Council happens outside of College Council,” third-year representative Sohrab Kohli said.