Three candidates battle for top freshman seat for the first time in three years

Tyler McNeil, 

Managing Editor

Manik Elahi, Emma Dillon and Steven Pelletier will face off this morning for freshman class president a year after no votes were cast for the elections. “I think we can do a way better job than we’re doing right now,” said Elahi.

“To me, it’s not really about rank or power, I just really want to help the campus and encourage everyone to become as involved as possible,” said Pelletier.

Along with the current race, Pelletier and Dillon have mentioned aspirations towards the Student Senate presidency. “I really feel like this is a comfortable setup for me to get comfortable with the senate and get my interest shown,” said Dillon. The last two freshman class presidents, including Samantha Bedell in 2013, moved onto executive board positions in the Senate.

Elahi, who joined the Senate last spring, mentioned that his focus pertains only to be being elected freshman class president as of now.

Last year, Student Senate president Everett McNair was appointed as freshman class president after no votes were casted on the ballot. In addition to having no voter turnout, McNair was the only freshman that ran for any position that election.

He went on to win the Student Senate presidency against Xavier Miller and Chad Albright last spring with the highest voter turnout in recent history (585 votes, 63 abstains). McNair believes last year’s election partially impacted participation in the senate. “I think part of it is that we have a lot of motivated people on the Senate right now, but I think there’s also a snowball effect from this past year having high voter turnout [which] raised awareness about the Senate and campus activities,” said McNair.

The last time three contenders faced off for freshman class president, Brittanie Wright won the election against James Greg and Emily Vega with 85 votes but never moved up to the Senate executive board. Despite Greg having the least amount of votes against both of his opponents, he was the only student in the election to move on to a seat in the executive board the next year.

Both having started Hudson Valley at 16-years-old, Pelletier is still a senior at Berlin High School in the early admissions program while Dillon left Ballston-Spa High School early last year to get involved in the 24-credit-hour program, the same program as Grace Harrison, last year’s Student Senate president.

Dillon and Pelletier also share family ties in senate. Dillon’s brother, Josiah, currently acts as treasurer on the executive board. “I’m proud to see what [Emma’s] done and I’m excited to see what she’ll do in the future,”said Josiah.

Pelletier said he was influenced by his sister, Erika, to start attending Senate meetings earlier this semester. “For him to be in the Student Senate, you need to be responsible as well as a people’s person — it just made sense,” said Erika.

Erika, who plans to transfer to Saint Rose in the spring, has been a Senator since Fall 2013, and is one of the longest standing senators currently involved in the Senate.

Senators were required to collect 50 signatures and freshman presidential hopefuls were required to collect 150 signatures in order to enter the race. “I felt that that if I got to know more people on campus, I would get to know who I’m representing,” said Pelletier. He collected over 300 signatures before petitions were due earlier this month.

Elahi was one of the last candidates to begin petitioning for Freshman Class President. According to Elahi, he started petitioning a week after petitions were released to focus on academics. “I really like to focus on one thing at a time,” he said.

Along with being the only candidate in the race alongside a party, Elahi considers his experience as an international student a strong factor in being able to attract a diverse voter demographic. “I can converse better with people. I can understand where they’re coming from better,” Elahi said.

While Elahi sees being an international student as an advantage in the upcoming elections, being the only female in the race, Dillon believes she can win the seat by appealing to the college’s female demographic. “I feel like it really differs me from the other candidates,” she said.

Polls open for the freshman elections at 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. tomorrow.

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