After win, Montell starts transition

The crowd was smaller and quieter than last year, but there was still much celebration yesterday night when Tyler Montell was announced the 2008-09 Student Government president.

Montell and his running mate, Grant Mills, ran unopposed and won with a total of 1,940 votes.

After all of the time and effort spent planning and campaigning, Montell said the moments after the announcement seemed almost unreal to him.

“The responsibility is a bit overwhelming,” Montell said. “This is something we’ve been thinking about for months, and it’s here. But as overwhelming as it is, it’s encouraging too.”

Now that the race is over, Mills said he is ready to get to work as vice president.

“I’m excited for the challenge,” Mills said. “This is the first step to make a positive change on campus.”

There were more than 20 pages of write-in votes for the election. The leading write-in candidate, Spanish sophomore Peggy Ray, had 229 votes. Mills said he was anxious about the possibility of someone unexpectedly walking away with a presidential victory.

“Even though we ran unopposed, there was still a chance for a write-in,” Mills said. “There are a lot of people on campus qualified for a position like this.”

The total number of votes this year was 3,251, 22 votes less than last year despite the ability to vote from any computer for the first time in a spring SG election.

About 2,100 people voted for a presidential candidate compared to last year’s number of 3,133. The total number of presidential candidate votes reported included only those for Montell and Ray.

Final results were delayed about one hour because of the volume of write-in votes. The SG Election Board had to replace the original results as well after only 14 of the 15 senator at-large winners were included.

Only having one presidential candidate definitely affected voter turnout this year, Montell said. But not having competition for the presidential spot put more attention on the senatorial candidates, which Montell said was a great thing.

“Last year the climax of the results was about Nick (Phelps) and Scott (McIntosh),” Montell said. “This year it wasn’t about the presidential race. (Senators) are such a hard working body, and it’s good to put the emphasis on them.”

The referendum on this year’s ballot passed by several hundred votes. The referendum asked students if they were in favor of using $2 of student fees to provide free national newspapers, like USA Today or The New York Times, on campus.

Of the 36 senators elected, many have served in the Senate before. At-large-elect and current freshman Sen. Julie Colgate said to have senators re-elected to office is a great advantage to the Senate and student body.

“There are a lot of experienced senators for next year,” Colgate said. “That should bring some new ideas and some good, old ideas to the table.”

Creating a staff is one of Montell’s first priorities once in office, Mills said. When it comes time to make administrative decisions, he said he hopes to keep communicating with students around campus.

“We’re going to be listening to students’ concerns,” Mills said. “We’ll make sure the student body is part of any decision we’re making.”

The pair will be sworn into office in April, but Montell said he plans to start working tomorrow.

“It’s time to take these ‘what ifs’ and turn them into realities,” Montell said.