On Nov. 15 the University of New Mexico student body elected 11 new students to serve on the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico Senate.
Of the newly elected senators, 10 will complete a full term, and one will serve a half-term.
The newly appointed senators, in order of the number of votes they received, are as follows: Mohammed Assed, Molly Callaghan, Madeline Kee, Rocky Cordova, Madelyn Lucas, Nadine Oglesby, Rose Cary, Arlin Bustillos, Satchel Ben and Jorge Rios. Lucas Maestas was elected to a half-term.
This particular cycle of fall elections is distinctive due to the abnormally large turnout of both eligible candidates and voters.
There were 28 individuals competing for the 11 available positions. In response, 2,149 votes were cast — the most ever in a fall election and an evident increase from the 1,600 votes in Fall 2016.
Emma Talbert, the executive director of ASUNM’s Election Commission, said she was pleased with voter turnout.
She said she felt the large increase of voter participation was a result of the number of candidates, their efforts and the recently passed election reform bill.
The election reform bill increased the voting period from only two days to three and also opened online voting, so students could vote at any time from any location.
The original author of the bill, Emily Hartshorn, campaigned for reelection under the Collective UNM slate.
Although Hartshorn did not win, she said she remains optimistic for those who were elected.
“I feel excited for the new senators, and I hope that they can forget about slate boundaries and work together more cohesively in order to create legislation that helps the entire student body,” she said.
Hartshorn also said she felt satisfied with the way her bill performed.
“My intention with the election reform bill was to increase voter turnout and to diversify the voter pool,” she said. “I also wanted to move elections forward, because schools like (New Mexico State University) have completely online voting, and their voter turnout remains much higher than ours. I’m very happy with the increased voter turnout, but there is still work to do.”
This fall election was the first to take place since ASUNM Senate passed the election reform bill earlier this September.
Talbert also expressed excitement regarding the newly elected senators.
“I think anyone who ran this semester would have made a great senator, but I am very proud of the people who were elected, and I think it is really important that they stepped up and are going to make a difference here at UNM,” she said.
Assed expressed both gratitude for those who voted for him and excitement at the success his slate achieved — five out of the six Think UNM applicants were elected.
“You can expect a lot more having to do with our students, and not just our Greek
students but our everyday students,” he said when asked about the legislation that can be expected from his slate.
Assed also said he would like to see a complete overhaul of the UNM app, to make it both easier and more beneficial to use.
“The app was the basis of our campaign,” he said. “We want to be able to have students buy tickets for any of our sporting events or any of the plays that go on, as it makes it easier for students to be able to go. We believe this is going to boost morale not only for students, but for the teams that are playing as well.”
Lucas, from the LEAD slate, said environmental sustainability was one of her primary concerns.
“I definitely want to take baby steps towards making sure that we can get a ranking in sustainability like (New Mexico State University),” she said.
Lucas also said she is interested in reviewing the ways funds are distributed to students and student organizations.
“It’s really difficult to appropriate funds for students. I know (ASUNM) is doing their best right now, but I think it’s something that can be looked into further,” she said.
Austin Tyra is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @AustinATyra.