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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Hughes wins VP election

Published: September 19, 2008
Section: Front Page

In Wednesday’s special vice presidential election, Adam Hughes ’11, who came in second place in the primary on Monday, defeated opponent Andrew Brooks ’09.

Hughes won with 524 votes to Brooks’ 360 votes. 29 students registered an abstention vote. The election, which was announced at the beginning of the month after the resignation of former vice president Michael Kerns ’09, drew 913 voters, approximately 28% of the undergraduate population.

“I am glad that we were able to get the election starting as soon as we did to be sure that we could fill the position,” Student Union President Jason Gray ’10 said. Gray, who has worked in the past with both candidates, said,“I was looking forward to working with either candidate.”

The results differed from those of Monday’s primary, in which 608 students cast votes. In that election, Brooks won with 266 votes, Hughes came in second with 195 votes, and third place went to Gustavo Pardo ’10, with 85 votes. Since no candidate received a majority of the votes, the top two winners of the primary, Hughes and Brooks, moved on to the final round of the election.

After coming in second on Monday, Hughes worked on a plan to gain voters. “It had always been my mentality that if people knew my message and Brooks’, they would agree with my message,” Hughes explained. For this reason, he sent his supporters, armed with laptops, to the Usdan Dining Hall throughout election-day. There, they solicited votes and explained their candidate’s position.

“If people were given a positive message, they would be willing to vote,” Hughes said.

Hughes supporter Cecelia Watkins ’11, for instance, solicited votes in the Usdan Student Center and in various dorms around campus. “The process is such a rush of positive energy,” she said. “Feeling somewhat guilty for accosting strangers, knuckles sore from rapping on doors, and voice worn down from trying to convince apathetic voters. But in the end it was completely worth it,” she said.

Brooks, who ran for Vice-President and Senator-at-large last year, took a different approach: “I felt like it would be more appropriate to introduce myself to students.”

Brooks also focused his campaign around his experience as a senator. “I ran because I really felt and believed that I was the only candidate who could step into the job and pick things up where they left off,” he said. “I knew how to run the room…[I thought] my qualifications and experience would be a really positive attribute.”

Hughes and Brooks differed in their opinions of the process of the election. While Hughes contended that “the process as a whole went smoothly,” Brooks was disappointed by the $2000/semester computer software used to run the election. “People were trying to vote, and it was impossible because the server kept crashing,” he said.

Brooks also learned that Transitional-Year Program students who wanted to vote for him were not allowed to do so by the software.

“Had the software been working properly, that could have made the difference,” Brooks said. “I think that at Brandeis, [to have] such a small proportion of people participating in the election process, [is] surprising to me.”

When asked about turnout, though, Gray did not mention hearing of any problems. “[Considering that] Brandeis students vote at a much higher percentage than at any other school, the turnout was really good,” he said.One aspect of the election that may have swayed voters was the support of former vice president Michael Kerns. Kerns, who chose to support Hughes, wrote in an e-mail to The Hoot, “I decided to support Adam because I know him to own the character, values, and track record that I seek in a student representative and leader. I believe he understands the place and the potential of the Student Union within the Brandeis community.”

Hughes acknowledged the importance of Kerns’ support. “I feel like Brandeis gave Mike Kerns a mandate…I feel like I want to continue that mandate.”

Editor’s Note: Adam Hughes is Sports Editor for The Hoot.