The race for Student Senate executive board positions for the coming academic year is heating up as candidates prepare for the elections.
Freshman senator Stephen Pelletier is expecting this season’s Student Senate election to be record-breaking.
“I can see us probably generating the interest of 1,000 voters,” said Pelletier, who started petitioning for the position of vice president last week under the Surprise Party.
The newly-formed party started petitioning across campus last month and will stop before petitions are due at 4 p.m. next Friday.
The Surprise Party is one of two parties looking to be in the race, including a reorganization of last year’s People’s Party.
“We want student inclusion, and we want to make sure that the clubs are more empowered because we believe the clubs are the reason why there is a student government,” said secretarial and student trustee petitioner Manik Elahi (P).
As an international student, Elahi hopes the campaign will bring diversity into the race.
“That was our edge last semester,” said Elahi. “This will be our edge this semester.”
Out of 11 students, the majority of petitioners are not currently involved in the Student Senate. Presidential petitioner Brandon McDonough (P) believes having five members not involved in the senate could give the party an advantage.
“I could see it giving it somewhat of an edge, but as of right now I’m not certain how the race will go,” he said.
While students running under a party such as the People’s Party have united to seek executive board positions, several petitioners are running alone. Presidential and student trustee petitioner Shane Batcher (I) is one such candidate. Batcher was approached by the Surprise Party to join their group for the secretary position, but declined their offer.
“I figured it’s a really great way to be a leader, get more involved with the students and have the impact that I would like to have. Becoming the Student Senate president would be a good place to start,” said Batcher.
The other independent presidential petitioner, Brandon Fellons, could not be reached for comment.
Current freshman class president Emma Dillon (S), being the only woman currently in the race, hopes being elected president would improve diversity in the executive board. Over the last two years, the Student Senate executive board has been either all men (2014-15) or all women (2015-16).
“I think it will be a nice change of pace,” she said.
“I’m actually really excited to have the opportunity to run against somebody that I have respect for,” said Batcher about running against Dillon.
After facing off against each other during the freshman presidential elections, Dillon and Pelletier started planning for the spring. Both of the candidates originally wanted to be Student Senate president, but rearranged their positions in the fall to run together.
“We just get along very well, which I think is good because teamwork, especially for me, is very important for next year,” Dillon said.
Along with being the youngest petitioners and longest-serving Senate members in the race, Dillon and Pelletier both have family histories of student leadership at Hudson Valley.
Pelletier’s sister was an active senator for three years and his uncle was student trustee. Dillon’s brother currently holds the treasurer seat and her father was freshman class president.
While Dillon and Pelletier have had ties in Hudson Valley student government prior to entering Hudson Valley, tresorial petitioner Daniel Kusky (S), who is in his second year at the college, wasn’t connected with any student organizations until last fall.
“This is definitely a turning point for my time at Hudson Valley,” he said.
Kusky believes his experience before entering Hudson Valley qualifies him to be treasurer. During the last five years, Kusky worked three jobs and balanced his budget while his mother was away in Israel and his father was off studying geology in China.
“I have had to do quite comprehensive budgeting in the past and make money work with what I have,” said Kusky. Next fall, the next treasurer will oversee a $900,000 Student Senate budget.
Kusky could face off against Saydou Bonsa (P) after mid-terms determine candidate eligibility on Mar. 14. Last semester when he was running for the Senate, Bonsa did not originally hope to run for an executive board position.
“It’s more of my own decision that I made to run for the e-board, but also people have said I could do a really good job,” said Bonsa.
Bonsa managed to get more votes to be a senator than any other candidate in the People’s Party, including Elahi, in the freshman elections.
During this election, Bonsa believes that he, along with his party and the other candidates, will increase voter turnout to exceed the 648 students who voted last spring.
“I wasn’t here to experience how students campaigned [last spring] or how informed students were about voting, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to break that record,” said Bonsa. “I’m pretty positive of that.”