Election complaints and replacements shake up already-chaotic campaign season 

disabledStudent Senate Chambers | Samuel Larreal, PantherNOW

Elise Catrion Gregg | Editor-in-Chief

After SGA senate president Kaily Lachapelle was disqualified from running for student body president, the Future is You party was left without a candidate.

So, they picked an unlikely person – student body vice president Santana Way, the student who had originally brought the complaint against Lachapelle that got them disqualified.

And, not long after he was nominated, he found himself facing the elections board too.

Originally, the Future is You’s replacement was former SGA president Cristhofer Lugo, a graduate student earning his master’s degree in computer science. 

That fell through.

As of Feb. 19, the candidates website still showed Lugo as a candidate – by Feb. 20, it had been updated

In an interview with PantherNOW, Lugo said his upcoming graduation barred him from serving another term. 

“I was bound to graduate and not be able to serve the entirety of my term,” said Lugo. “ I’m really sad, but excited that I got to feel that drive once again.” 

The party quickly needed a replacement. Candidates had only about a month to campaign.

“The Future is You Party reached out to me,” said Way in an interview with PantherNOW, explaining that Lugo and party leadership asked him to join them after his ticket was dissolved due to his failure to secure a vice president to run with.

Way told PantherNOW that the party reached out to him to replace Lugo, but didn’t go into detail about how they officially selected him.

Former Future is You campaign manager Hua Hui Vogel provided some of those details.

According to Vogel, party leadership originally picked Way, leading to some conflict within Future is You. Not everyone agreed with the decision, and the candidates for legislative positions got involved.

“It was no longer just kept to the executive board: it was brought now to the entire Future is You Party,” Vogel told PantherNOW in an interview. “There was a democratic process in which the senate slate chose between Santana and me for who would be the presidential ticket of the party.”

Ultimately, Way won the majority of senators, although Vogel claims he was helped by former Paws Up Party legislative candidates who also transferred to Future is You.

PantherNOW reached out to Iara Raggio, chair of the Future is You Party, for comment on the process of nominating Way. She declined to comment on how the party finalized their selection of Way.

Way found himself in the same position as Lachapelle soon after his nomination. 

He was in front of the same elections commission on Feb. 19. A complaint for interpretation had been filed, arguing that Santana should be disqualified because when he originally applied under his Paws Up Party, he didn’t have a vice president.

The complaint states that Way failed to meet the qualification “that a president run alongside a vice president…because he failed to keep his credentials, he did not replace or fulfill them within 24 hours. So, after that 24-hour period, he is declared disqualified.” 

According to minutes from the elections commission meeting on Feb. 19, Way argued that “although his ticket was found unlawful, he was never directly dismissed as a candidate.” 

In other words, he agreed that the Paws Up Party wasn’t valid without a vice president, but that didn’t mean Way couldn’t accept a nomination from Future is You. 

The minutes show that newly-elected elections commission member Johnpaul Merino found the complaint didn’t “have as much substance because Santana meets the essential qualifications that need to be met.” 

Further, member Grace Sancruzado added “that it would be unjust if past candidates could switch parties if their ticket was disqualified, and we as a board were to ignore these previous decisions,” only penalizing Way. 

Ultimately, the board voted that Way’s candidacy was legitimate. 

Who filed the complaint? Zachary Stangl, who also ran for student body president last year. 

Stangl just managed to qualify for president last year – as a senator, he wrote a bill that included changing the definition of an academic year, which meant he met the timeframe requirements to run for president.

That definition was approved by the judicial branch mere hours before Stangl took the stage with his two rivals, Delano Cicconi and then-senate president Alex Sutton, at the 2023 presidential debate. 

He’s not running for Gold and Blue again – this year, that’s his romantic partner Francesca Casanova, president of the Panhellenic Council

Both of their public social media accounts indicate the pair are dating. The candidates website does not show Stangl as running for any position within SGA. He is currently SGA’s attorney general, as well as party chair for the Gold and Blue Party.

Neither one of them returned Instagram direct messages with requests for comments.

Screenshots of Casanova and Stangl’s Instagram accounts, where the two can be seen in multiple posts together, with links in both bios to the other’s profile. | Via Instagram

If Stangl had succeeded in getting the board on his side, Casanova would have had a chance at winning the presidency without a fight – if Future is You hadn’t been able to replace Way.

As it stands, students can catch them both tonight at the SGA 2024 Presidential Debate, at 6:00 p.m. in the Graham Center room 243. 

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