First Stage of Presidential Elections Narrows Pool

The first round of elections for 2013-2014 School Co-Presidents began on Wednesday, as students voted six out of 12 candidate pairs through to the second round of voting.

Uppers Zoe Gallagher and Jake Marrus, Jerry Li and Rachel Murree, Madeleine Lippey and Dan Wang, Farris Peale and Ben Yi, Clark Perkins and Junius Williams and Malina Simard-Halm and Clint Yoo all moved on to the second round.

This past January, the Student Council Review Committee passed a proposal to amend the Student Government Constitution to change the structure of Student Council. Instead of one School President, there will be two School Co-Presidents beginning this election cycle. One major change to the election process with the Co-President model will be that the two final candidate pairs will debate during an All School Meeting, instead of the top three candidates making speeches as they have in the past, according to Paul Murphy, Dean of Students.

The new process is not yet finalized, according to Hemang Kaul ’13, current School President. The Student Council Review Committee met on Wednesday to discuss plans for the debate. Members of the current Executive Board, Kaul, Rolando Bonachea ’13, Vice President of Student Council, and MJ Engel ’13, Executive Secretary of Student Council, will direct the discussion as moderators.

“The debate is something that is new, and it will help showcase skills that are pertinent to the Co-President job description,” said Engel.

Aside from the change to Co-Presidents and the introduction of the debate, no other changes have been made to the election process.

Campaign guidelines will remain the same as those in last year’s election cycle. These include a $50 maximum budget, a maximum poster size of 11 by 17 inches and one-minute videos to be produced in the Polk-Lillard Center.

“Two years ago we had an election that felt very chaotic and not very positive, so last year’s board and myself and Dr. Cernota, who was the faculty advisor to Student Council at the time, sat down and hammered out what we thought would be good guidelines for everyone to follow,” said Murphy.

The reactions to the Co-President model have been positive thus far.

“The benefit of Co-Presidents is that [the presidency] is a very big job, and there is enough for two people to do. In my view, two are better than one. I think it will allow there to be some accountability. If you have two people that are supposed to get things done, it seems more likely that it will actually get done,” said Murphy.

Engel said, “I believe the Co-Presidential model gave the opportunity to a lot more people who might not have thought about running beforehand a chance to run. So far they have shown great respect and great competitive spirit so far in the campaign. They have remained respectful of their opponents; they have remained respectful of the process in general, and I think that is going to be a great election season.”

Bonachea said, “I think the Co-President model definitely makes it easier because you can disperse the work of both the campaign and actually being President between two people.”

The Co-President model has affected the candidate pairs differently. Candidates elaborated on how they hope to use the new structure to the advantage of student council.

“By working together we can reach more people and make a bigger difference. Jake and I come from very different educational backgrounds. Jake will be a four-year senior, and I was a repeat new lower, so together we have had different experiences. We can take these experiences that we’ve both had and blend them to create the best Andover possible,” said Gallagher.

“The Co-President model fosters cooperation. It fosters a more “non-sibi” and less arrogant spirit in those seeking office. Most of all, it creates more than one figure who stands for the school, allowing for a more accurate embodiment and better representation of the student body,” wrote Peale in an e-mail to The Phillipian.

“There is half as much responsibility and work to complete for each member. It is also very convenient to have a companion to discuss platform ideas and the next initiatives the team should take. Clint and I work very well together and have been able to derive unique ideas working together. The process also involves mental stress and having a teammate makes it less solitary and isolable,” wrote Simard-Halm in an e-mail to The Phillipian.

“Getting to know each other is actually the basis of Dan’s and my platform. We want to make the school feel like a family rather than always a pressure-cooker, and I think the Co-President model enhances that message and makes that goal a little more attainable,” said Lippey.

The new structure also affected the candidates’ decision to run for Co-Presidents.

“I would have been much less likely to run on my own, but having Co-Presidents definitely encourages more pairs to run. I think the decision to have Co-Presidents is an interesting one, especially in light of the election last year and John Palfrey’s theme of connected learning this year. I see Co-Presidents as encouraging the spirit of collaboration on campus, reaching an even broader net of students, and getting even more accomplished,” wrote Murree in an e-mail to The Phillipian.

“[Clark and I] were both planning to run for the presidency before the Co-President model was even considered. However, seeing as we had both worked together as Lower reps and knew we could collaborate with each other, we mutually decided that running together would kill two birds with one stone. Quite a few of our campaign ideas were quite similar, so it has been easy to mesh them,” wrote Onome in an e-mail to The Phillipian.