Farinas ticket wins presidency by 0.8 percent

By Melissa Caceres/News Director 

It was close.

The Student Government Association presidential election was decided by a margin of only 71 votes.

Presidential candidate Laura Farinas and her running mate Alex Castro won the student government presidency at the Modesto Maidique campus in an election that brought out almost the second largest student voter turnout in the State University System.

“We all saw it was going to be a tight race, and honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way because it made the experience all the more gratifying in the end,”  Farinas said in an interview with Student Media. “We won by 71 votes, and I rather win by 71 than by 3,000 because it shows all the work that was put into this election. We want the same numbers to transcend to next year.”

The announcement on April 5 brought campaign supporters to the Graham Center pit, most from the Farinas/Castro ticket and Udhnani/Mautner ticket.

In his opening speech, Jose Toscano, assistant director of Campus Life, stated that voter turnout increased about 44 percent since the previous year.

“We haven’t had this much energy in my eight years as an advisor,” he said to the crowd.

Farinas was proclaimed the winner of the election by 0.8 percent difference from the Udhnani ticket.

“It was a toe-to-toe battle,” said Toscano. “If both tickets came to me now, I would not be able to advise them on what to do better.”

Donovan Dawson, Student Government Council at Modesto Maidique Campus Senate speaker, is hoping for the same energy from the candidates in the transition process into their positions.

“A lot of the results were a surprise to us but candidates had really good campaigns,” said Dawson. “I’m glad that there was such a great [voter] turnout.”

Dawson will be assisting the senators transition into their positions while Patrick O’Keefe, SGC-MMC president, will be aiding the president and vice president-elect.

“The whole process pretty much involves sitting down with them and seeing what is realistic in their initiatives and also introducing them to [University administrators],” said O’Keefe.

The Patel-Wu ticket lagged behind with 575 votes, 6.5 percent of the votes.

“Every single one of my votes were from people who liked my ideas and I’m very proud of that,” said Samir Patel, former presidential candidate.

Toscano found this election year to be different from the others, not only because of the multiple tickets but because of the campaigning methods.

“They really went out there, outside of GC, to find the students,” Toscano said. “Many times our student groups neglect to see that the other 40,000 FIU students are out there and not here at the GC.”

According to Toscano, last year was the birth of the use of cell phones, laptops and iPads for voting.

He added that “the three tickets really understood the use of these mediums and from that birth, there was an evolution.”

The Udhnani-Mautner ticket took advantage of the technology and felt that despite their loss, they still made an impact on the student body.

“We showed students that there is a different SGA out there,” said Conner Mautner, former vice presidential candidate. “If anything came out of this, it was the dramatic increase in awareness.”

Farinas and Castro have begun the transition period and said they were ready to get to work.

“Laura and I are more than prepared to start working,” Castro said. “Campaigning was the beginning, now is when we get to work.”

Additional reporting by Melhor Leonor.

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