Abel Gonsalves was voted the next President of the Mount St. Mary’s University SGA on Tuesday, four days after polls closed to students.
The winning ticket was rounded out by Rebekah Hardy for Vice-President, Sarafina Arthur-Williams for Secretary, and Michael Nachtrab for Treasurer.
Gonsalves and his ticket won the university’s first competitive SGA election since 2009, defeating a second ticket led by incumbent SGA Treasurer Justin Byram. Byram was joined by candidates Joe Appleton, Austin Blake, and Heather Shenko.
The newly elected Executive Board will take office at the beginning of the 2015 Fall semester.
According to the preamble of its constitution, the SGA seeks “to act as a link between the administration and the students,” and encourages open community dialogue between all segments of the undergraduate student community.The Executive Board, moreover, was formed as the “direct liaison” students and administration officials.
Current SGA President Kathryn Price, a senior, was excited with the prospect of a competitive election, which has not occurred during her time at the university.
“At one point, the Executive Board was hand-picked,” Price said. “The fact that this year’s election had a solid turnout, combined with the fact that it was also a very close election, shows promising things for the future of student involvement in SGA at the Mount.”
Gonsalves, a junior at the university, said after the publication of the results that “winning was as satisfying as it was challenging. We were thrilled to find out that all the hard work over the past one-month had finally reached fruition.”
Byrum’s reaction was straightforward, and he expressed his faith in the new Executive Board. “I didn’t run to lose,” he said, “but I do believe that they will be able to follow up with the goals that they’ve set. Both of us had similar platforms, so I think that the SGA will experience an easy transition as a result.”
Gonzales also praised Byrum and his running mates, stating that “Our ticket was privileged to compete against four excellent candidates whose vision harmonized with our own.”
Prior to the election, the SGA presented the two slates of candidates at its weekly Tuesday night meeting, allowing them time to present what changes and improvements they would like to implement at the Mount and the SGA as a whole.
Gonsalves presented the most important issue for his ticket: bringing more awareness to the Veritas program. He specifically pointed helping students understand Veritas by making the program’s guidelines more visible.
Gonsalves also expressed an interest in providing a better connection between seminarians and undergraduates. He believes that, because both groups are going to the same school, they should intermingle through get-togethers supervised by the university.
Byram’s speech centered on the need for SGA to be more interconnected with the rest of the school’s clubs, suggesting a meeting where all heads might congregate and form decisions on matters of common importance.
After the election, Byrum saw the winning ticket’s strongest goal as its plan to increase the role of technology within the various functions of student government.
“I think they need to place a little bit more emphasis on adjusting to the presidential transition,” he said, “but I also think they’ll be successful.”
Gonsalves promises that the new Executive Board’s priorities will be placed with students in mind.
“Our goals resonate not just the growth the Mount is experiencing but the world outside of this campus as well,” he said. “We live in an age where the ways in which we communicate is rapid and unpredictable which is why we have to stay ahead of the change.”