Current SSMU VP Internal Kay Turner won the Students’ Society presidency by a decisive margin Friday night, beating opponent RJ Kelford by 15 per cent.
After sending current President Jake Iztkowitz to get her a Moosehead, Turner expressed her satisfaction with the election results.
“I won the race by a solid margin. Everyone I wanted to win won. We are a solid team of experienced people who have the students at heart,” Turner said.
Kelford, the current Arts Undergraduate Society President, said he wasn’t convinced that the dismantling of his web site – notanotherstudentpolitician.com – was the decisive element in his defeat. Earlier this week, Elections McGill Chief Returning Officer Corey Shefman forced Kelford to take it down because its value pushed Kelford’s campaign spending over the mandated $150 budget.
Kelford said he doubted his web site could have secured him the approximately 450 votes necessary to close the gap between him and Turner.
“I’m sure it had an impact, but not 450 votes worth of an impact,” he said.
In referendum question results, the Daily Publications Society (DPS) – which publishes The McGill Daily and Le Délit – secured a strong win, with 80.9 per cent of voters choosing to continue financially supporting the newspapers.
The McGill administration forced the DPS to go to referendum for the first time in its history this year. Last year, CKUT-Radio and the Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG) were also forced to hold referendum votes to affirm student support.
DPS Board of Directors member Jeremy Delman said he hoped the support for The Daily’s existence evidenced in Friday’s results would convince the administration that a follow-up referendum in five years’ time is unnecessary.
“Hopefully we can go [to the administration] and say: ‘Over 80 per cent of students support us. Why would you force us to put money, time, and energy into running a Yes campaign every five years?” he said.
In the race for SSMU VP Internal – the most contested position – Julia Webster beat out José Diaz, Kevin Chambers, and Brad Milech. Webster said she hoped to incorporate Diaz’s ideas for more inclusive social events into her plans for next year’s Frosh, as well as strengthening the sensitivity training Frosh leaders receive through the First-Year Office.
“The part of José’s platform I really like is about diversifying events,” Webster said.
For VP Clubs & Services, Samantha Cook’s experience at Queer McGill won over Johnson Fung’s vision to revamp SSMU’s web capacities.
“I think my experience helped, and the fact that I’m interested in important issues like opt-outs and the McGill name,” Cook said, adding that she would be interested in working with Fung in the future.
“I know our web site sucks,” she said.
Devin Alfaro beat out longtime student politician Trevor Hannah for the VP External Affairs position. Alfaro has promised to continue fighting for lower tuition fees, while Hannah had argued for a focus on financial aid.
“At this point SSMU is really isolated, and the first step we need to take is to build good working relationships with others student organisations to fight for accessible education,” Alfaro said, adding, “I think it’s a really good team next year and I’m really excited.”
Peter Newhook was acclaimed VP Finance & Operations, while Nadya Wilkinson was acclaimed VP University Affairs.
Wilkinson echoed Alfaro’s excitement for next year’s exec.
“I feel like this exec has a huge advantage over last year’s – we’re going into the year already getting along, which is amazing,” she said after the newly-elected execs went out for dinner together.
The other two major referendum questions – on autonomous online opt-outs and support for student clubs – also passed with clear support. Trevor Chow-Fraser, Yes committee member for the autonomous online opt-out question, said that autonomous student groups with opt-outs hoped to use the vote to convince the administration to continue negotiating.
“We hope the admin will respect the referendum results, and come back to us with solid, good faith proposals,” Chow-Fraser said.
The crowd of undergraduates strongly applauded Shefman at Gert’s Friday afternoon when he announced that 30.9 per cent of students voted in the SSMU elections this year, nearly matching last year’s record-breaking voter turnout.
– with files from Max Halparin
To see further coverage of election night and interviews with the candidates, see TVMcGill.com
2008 election results
Voter turnout: 5,729 votes,
or 30.9 per cent of undergrads.
Kay Turner 54.5 per cent
RJ Kelford 39.5 per cent
Defin Alfaro 50.9 per cent
Trevor Hanna 39.1 per cent
VP Clubs & Services
Samantha Cook 51.4 per cent
Johnson Fung 39.3 per cent
Julia Webster 34.5 per cent
José Diaz 28.9 per cent
Kevin Chambers 13.3 per cent
Brad Milech 13.1 per cent
VP University Affairs
Nadya Wilkinson Acclaimed
VP Finance & Operations
Peter Newhook Acclaimed
Daily Publications Society
Yes 80.9 per cent
No 17.0 per cent
Yes 65.6 per cent
No 27.5 per cent
Clubs & Services
Yes 81.3 per cent
No 11.5 per cent
CRO to CEO Name Change
Yes 72.2 per cent
No 16.4 per cent
Nomination of Auditors
Yes 68.8 per cent
No 14.9 per cent