LUSU releases results of election
By sam mathers
Turnout: 1353 (14.5%) of 9339 electors voted in this ballot.
Yes (Vote of Confidence for Leah Ching) 1005 (90.1%)
No (Do not elect Leah Ching) 111 (9.9%)
Abstain 237 (17.5%)
Vice-President Operations and Finance
Yes (Vote of Confidence for Farhan Yousaf) 992 (89.9%)
No (Do not elect Farhan Yousaf) 112 (10.1%)
Abstain 112 (10.1%)
Lindsey Kelly 362 (36.9%)
Robert Strachan 331 (33.7%)
Benjamin Steinmetz 288 (29.4%)
Abstain 372 (27.5%)
Yes (Vote of Confidence for Jessica Kearney) 654 (81.1%)
No (Do not elect Jessica Kearney) 152 (18.9%)
Abstain 547 (40.4%)
Thunder Bay Board of Directors
Restricted to TBAY
Victoria Erickson 492 (13.3%)
Harleen Bhullar 481 (13.0%)
Eric Melillo 404 (10.9%)
Shahroze (Shezzy) Arshad 380 (10.3%)
Olaoluwa Noble 376 (10.2%)
Dawson Mihichuk 361 (9.8%)
Tannis Kastern 347 (9.4%)
Mat Nowak 334 (9.0%)
Rajroop Saini 247 (6.7%)
Amit Nair 175 (4.7%)
Pavlo Karasyuk 105 (2.8%)
Abstain 140 (12.5%)
Orillia Board of Directors
Restricted to ORIL
Yes (Vote of Confidence for Theresa Vandeburgt) 160 (30.9%)
No (Do not elect Theresa Vandeburgt) 26 (5.0%)
Yes (Vote of Confidence for Aaron Hiltz) 159 (30.8%)
No (Do not elect Adrian Smith) 22 (4.3%)
Yes (Vote of Confidence for Adrian Smith) 139 (26.9%)
No (Do not elect Aaron Hiltz) 11 (2.1%)
Abstain 13 (5.5%)
Polls closed a week ago in the LUSU election, and the results were made public on Friday.
In comparison to the previous year, last week’s election saw a slight decrease in voter turnout. Only 14.5% of the student body cast their votes between February 2nd and 8th, though still surpassing the 10% quorum outlined in the constitution.
This year saw far less candidates running for executive positions, with only one candidate running for President, Leah Ching. Last year saw four candidates running, including Roman Jakubowski, who ran a successful campaign and secured a second term for himself as President. Running against newcomers Harly Di Bundu and Torin Bergagnini, along with Matt Quick, who was serving as Vice-President Advocacy at the time.
Similarly, four students ran for the position of Vice-President Operations and Finance in the last election, with only one running this year, incumbent VPF, Farhan Yousaf. Yousaf secured the position of VPF last year, that being his second time campaigning, losing out the previous year to Li Kang.
Vice-President Orillia candidate and current Orillia board member Jessica Kearney also ran unopposed in this year’s election, ready to take over from current VPO Sami Pritchard, after two successful terms.
For the position of Vice-President Advocacy, this was the only executive position that saw more than one candidate campaigning for the position. Lindsay Kelly, Rob Strachan, and Ben Steinmetz all ran in this year’s election. The position remained largely empty for most of the year after Mohammed Asker’s resignation, and a later-held by-election in which the 10% quorum was not met.
Students voted for the four executive positions (President, Vice-President Orillia, Vice-President Advocacy, and Vice-President Operations and Finance) and the Board of Directors for both the Thunder Bay and Orillia campuses.
Since only one candidate ran in three of the four executive positions, the candidates simply needed a “vote of confidence” to be elected.
Elected President of LUSU was Leah Ching with a 90.1 per cent vote of confidence. Her platform was organized on a few key points: organizing the union internally by ensuring proper training for executives, staff, and board members, advocating within university administration and at all levels of government to expand key services for students, and to empower students by increasing funding opportunities for clubs, societies, and student jobs, especially for international and other marginalized students.
Farhan Yousaf was re-elected Vice-President Operations and Finance with a 89.9 per cent vote of confidence. Yousaf promises to continue the work he has been doing this year, for all students, regardless of their background.
Jessica Kearney was voted Vice-President Orillia with an 81.1 per cent vote of confidence.
Back in November, LUSU held a by-election for Vice-President Advocacy, after Asker’s resignation left the position vacant. With Dawson Mihichuk and Ben Steinmetz both running for the position, neither were able to garner enough votes to secure a win. Just over 5% of the student body voted in the by-election, missing the quorum by nearly half. The position remained vacant, with the current Vice-President Operations and Finance and Vice-President Orillia covering the duties in the interim.
This time around, Lindsey Kelly was Elected Vice-President Advocacy, after running against Benjamin Steinmetz, who ran for the position in November, and Robert Strachan, this year’s Food Bank Coordinator. Kelly was elected by a slim margin, with Strachan trailing less than 35 votes behind. Kelly is the only VPA candidate that did not participate in the candidates’ debate, but is looking to see a unified student government, promising mental health and self-care within academics, as well as a more cohesive plan for the academic appeals process.
Eleven candidates ran for the eight spots on the Board of Directors for the Thunder Bay campus. Elected were: Victoria Erickson, Harleen Bhullar, Eric Melillo, Shahroze (Shezzy) Arshad, Olaoluwa Noble, Dawson Mihichuk, Tannis Kastern, and Mat Nowak.
Candidates Theresa Vandeburgt, Aaron Hiltz, and Adrian Smith ran for and were elected into the three spots on Orillia’s Board of Directors.
Three of the candidates – Dawson Mihichuk, Mat Nowak, and Eric Melillo – that were elected to the Thunder Bay Board of Directors belong to the Reform Alliance, a “grassroots student led group” that believes LUSU should be run from “the bottom up.” They campaigned for accountability, transparency, and involvement within the student union. In a live video posted to the Reform Alliance’s Facebook page, Mihichuk, who is President of the Alliance, stated that they do not “consider the other board designates as competition, but rather as comrades and colleagues who [they] will be working hard with to create a better LUSU.” He also made note of the member of the Alliance that was not elected, Benjamin Steinmetz, saying he is an “integral part of our team and will absolutely continue to be a part of our movement.”
The incoming board consists of only one returning board member, Tannis Kastern, who voiced criticism for the comments made by Mihichuk during the candidates’ debate in which he insinuated that LUSU was failing, disconnected with the students, not transparent, and in need of reform. Kastern made a point of highlighting that LUSU board meetings are indeed open to the public, and that the dialogue between students and the union goes both ways, pointing out the problematics in shifting focus and complaining about the union not being transparent enough without getting involved.
None of the other 2016-2017 board members campaigned to return for another term, with the only other experienced members of the team being Kearney, who has moved to an executive position, and Yousaf, who will be returning for a second term in his position.
The other spots are all held by newcomers, meaning that hopefully students can look forward to new outlooks and fresh ideas. Ching is currently serving as the Editor-in-Chief at The Argus, following a long line of Argus editors and writers who have decided to run for executive LUSU positions after serving at the paper (Roman Jakubowski, Ian Kaufman, Danny Bacsa to name a few). Lindsey Kelly also worked at the Argus last year, as the paper’s 2015-2016 Arts and Culture Editor.
While the election results are preliminary, once approved by the board, the newly elected student union will begin their undertaking in May.
Results available from: LUSU.ca/vote