2017 A.S. Election Results Announced, Lesly Figueroa to Be Next President

The A.S. Elections Committee announced the results of the 2017 A.S. and college council elections this evening at Round Table Pizza, after voting officially closed at 4 p.m today. Lesly Figueroa of Students Determined won the race for A.S. president, beating out independents Aaron Dalton Burgess, Dennis Yeh and Gus Guerrero. Refilwe Gqajela of Students Determined and Matthew Arrollado of THRIVE won Vice President External and Vice President of Campus Affairs respectively.

The student body elected Aseel Sherif Ali, Sné Lochan, Miguel Angel Tapia, Monica Valdez and Itsi Sanchez Rea as their five campus-wide senators, with three coming from the Students Determined slate and two from the THRIVE slate.

In the off-campus senator election, Katya Avendano and Leony Mijares emerged victorious, while in the transfer senator election Kristiana Cuevas secured the most votes. The next academic senators will be Freddy Arriola for social sciences, Amy Henderson for arts and humanities, Nhi Nguyen for physical sciences, Anika Balse for biological sciences and Colin Feeney for engineering.

Advertised as a coalition of progressive student leaders, the Students Determined slate received ten of the 16 A.S. election spots available while THRIVE, which ran on a platform of reforming campus leadership and pursuing initiatives that will continue to affect students for years to come, got five.

Incoming A.S. President Figueroa told the UCSD Guardian that she is thrilled to see the results of all the candidates’ hard work.

“I’m really excited to see all the work and all the effort people have done come into fruition,” Figueroa said. “Looking into the future, everything that we have talked about, everything we have said those things are going to happen, especially with me and Refilwe.”

The overall voter turnout rate was 18.74 percent, confirming reports that turnout would be significantly lower than last year’s approximately 23 percent.

Several controversies arose during the course of this year’s elections.

Students Determined candidates Lesly Figueroa and Refilwe Gqajela were labeled as independents on the ballot despite intending to register with the Students Determined slate. According to the two candidates, there was a technical error when they filed for candidacy, which prompted them to be left off the Students Determined slate. However, after an audit of the filing system supposedly showed no such error, the Elections Committee and Natarajan made the decision to leave them as independents on TritonLink.

Additionally, THRIVE presidential candidate Tara Vahdani withdrew from the election on Tuesday after being accused of blackface when a two-year-old snapchat surfaced depicting Vahdani in a charcoal face mask with the caption “I’m problematic.” In her statement announcing her withdrawal, Vahdani apologized for her actions and claimed that she sent the picture to a friend because “the nature of [their] snapchats was to critique systems of oppression through humor.”

The winning candidates will term in during Week 8.