For the second consecutive year, and third time in four years, the race for student body president comes down to a runoff.
Of the record 4,133 students taking to the polls, 1,102, or 26.7 percent, voted for Bijal Chhadva and vice presidential candidate Andrew Aubery. The Brandon Faza-J.P. Murphy ticket also earned a spot in next week’s runoff election with 1,084 votes, 26.2 percent of the total.
Last year, the general election drew a turnout of 1,831. Both runoff participants said the increased number of voters is a tribute to the student body and Student Government’s effort to publicize the election.
“I worked really hard to get this far, and I think the students respect that,” Chhadva said. “It just shows that the student body really does care.”
“I’m impressed by the amazing things the student organizations on campus do to get as many students involved as possible, and this is no exception,” Faza said. “Everyone did a great job of getting the word out to get students to participate.”
Faza said his approach won’t change going into the runoff.
“What’s worked to get us this far obviously has been effective, so it wouldn’t be a good idea to change now,” he said. “We’re going to keep on campaigning in a professional manner and try to get more people out there to vote for us.”
Last year, Chhadva failed to reach the runoff vote when he and running mate Candice Wild received just 143 votes.
“It took a lot of hard work to comeback from last year, but I think the student body sees that hard work,” Chhadva said. “Now we need to keep the hard work going for one more week and, hopefully, work even harder as student body president.”
Incumbent Omar Khan, who with 955 votes received 23 percent, said he wasn’t surprised by the outcome.
“I knew it would be close between Bijal, Faza and me, and any two of us could have gotten into the runoff,” Khan said. “With the race being close again, the extra turnout was especially important, and I hope the student body can maintain this level every year.”
The Mike Mincberg-Christi Clements and Esque Dollar-Tameka Bradley tickets received 608 and 373 votes, respectively. The Ricky Arias-Matt Camarco duo, notably absent the last two months as other candidates campaigned, was left off the ballot at its own request, Election Rules Commission chairman Andrew Read said.
The runoff vote will be held Wednesday and Thursday next week. Last year’s runoff drew 2,539 voters.