It started with four student candidates vying to be the leaders of Student Government (SG) and kicking off their campaigns at 8 a.m. Wednesday. By evening, one candidate had dropped out, leaving a ticket running unopposed in the elections that will be held next week.
From the start, it was a very different election. Sophomore Aaron King, who withdrew from the election on Wednesday, was running independently with no treasurer or vice presidential running mates. King had hopes, but he did not have the energy to campaign after he came down with pneumonia, he said. He emailed The Miami Hurricane just after 6 p.m. saying he was withdrawing from the race.
“When I had my illness, I was hopeful that I would recover soon enough to continue the election race,” King said in a follow-up email. “I decided to pull out now because I have been feeling worse today, with no sign of a soon recovery. I knew that I was far behind in campaigning and would not be healthy by election day.”
King was interviewed by The Miami Hurricane a day before he withdrew.
King said he was better suited to working alone, which explains why he chose to run by himself. He compared the risks of working with other people to a group project, in which collaboration could hinder rather than help performance.
“I’d rather run as an independent, as I have my own belief. It will make the campus a better place,” King said. During his interview, he emphasized that he was a strong candidate because he knew how to “get things done.”
Tickets usually have three candidates to fill three executive positions of president, vice president and treasurer. In the past decade at least, there hadn’t been another single-candidate ticket, said SG advisor Brandon Gross.
The candidates left from the “Unlimited” ticket are juniors Adrian Nuñez, Coleman Reardon and Emily Bajalia. All three members are heavily involved in Student Government and in different organizations around the university.
While King was driven by a belief that he could do a better job as an independent candidate, the Unlimited ticket came together on the basis of close friendship and teamwork.
Nuñez would usually provide the comic relief.
“I’m always ripping my pants. That makes them laugh at me,” he said.
But the one project that strengthened their friendships and made them see each other’s leadership potential was being part of the Homecoming Executive Committee (HEC).
“Adrian and Coleman are two of my favorite people,” Bajalia said. “When we did HEC together, we did a lot of planning and spent a lot of time together where I saw what passionate leaders they are.”
Although Nuñez, Reardon and Bajalia are from SG and share similar campus interests, Reardon said Unlimited will strive to help the diverse student body from all parts of campus.
“In the early stages, the three of us sat down, thought of our experience, thought of our friends and pinpointed the weak spots,” Reardon said. “We want to help fix the morale of students here.”
One such measure would be changing the registration system so that students could choose their preferred name for class rosters, directories and CaneLink. This would benefit many LGBT and international students, who often have trouble with their preferred names being used university-wide.
“International students who come here usually choose an American name, so they get to have a preferred name as the name that shows up,” Reardon said.
Unlimited has more than 20 platform initiatives, but Nuñez stressed that these are not the only goals his team would work on; many of their initiatives will come from listening to students.
“A goal we are really seeking is for initiatives to come from the students,” Nuñez said.
The Unlimited ticket is running uncontested, though students will still have an opportunity to write in candidates on the OrgSync ballot. Despite withdrawing from the race, King said he learned from the process and hopes to gain more experience by joining SG. He said he will run again next year.
“I learned that having connections is important. Because I’m running independently, I did not have a campaign team to assist me,” King said in an email. “If I had connections and a campaign team, my illness would not have ended my campaign.”
Campaigning started Wednesday and will continue until elections end on March 1. Voting opens on Feb. 27 and results will be announced on March 1 at 5:30 p.m. on the Lakeside Patio.
The SG Elections Commission will be in the Breezeway from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from next Monday to Wednesday to help students vote. Votes can also be cast remotely through the Student Government portal on OrgSync.