Tennessee Tech’s Student Government Association Executive Council election came to a close Friday after a run-off election determined Bobby Adams to be the winner.
With a grand total of 1,138 votes, Adams was declared the winner with a final vote count of 682. His opponent, Nathan Cole, had 447 votes and there were nine write-in votes.
“I feel truly honored to be selected by the students to serve them over the next year as SGA President,” Adams said. “Both teams had a lot of people out there supporting them so it was good. I think today was a very positive PR day for SGA and I’m excited for the next year.”
Cole commended his team for a hard fought race despite the loss Friday.
“We ran a phenomenal campaign Tuesday, but after that we were just tapped out,” Cole said. “We reallocated all our resources and he didn’t quite have that, but he brought it (Friday).”
Cole went on to say that this is his last year in Student Government, but he enjoyed his time in the organization.
Controversy surrounded this year’s election as a petition was filed against Adams prior to the initial Executive Council election April 14. Current SGA Vice President Daniel Tribble and SGA Vice President-Elect Nick Russell filed the petition the weekend before the election in an attempt to delay the election until the SGA Supreme Court could make a ruling on the eligibility of Adams’ candidacy.
“Mr. Adams was not a full-time student at the time his petition was turned in and signed,” Tribble and Russell wrote in their petition.
The current SGA constitution dictates that all elected members of the executive branch be full-time students at Tech. According to the petition, Adams was two credit hours short of being full time when his petition for election was turned in.
“When I became aware that I needed to become a full-time student, I just signed up for the hours I needed,” Adams said. “As soon as I became aware, I went through the proper avenues, I went and registered for two credit hours.”
Tribble and Russell wrote in their petition that Adams was aware of the new rules for this year’s election when he signed and initialed them during a dead hour meeting April 7.
“The main issue still remains,” Tribble said. “Should (Adams) be allowed to run based off him not being full time at the start of the campaign?”
“I know that there are questions, and that’s OK because there’s always going to be questions, but the good thing is that I followed procedure on everything,” Adams said.
The SGA Supreme Court was going to hold a hearing Thursday, April 16, after the votes were collected to determine whether or not Adams could have officially run for president based on the SGA Constitution.
SGA Supreme Court Chief Justice Justin Perdue said the petition was ruled invalid for improper filing.
“The petition was not filed to the judicial adviser and that’s why the election commission ruled that it was an invalid petition, and I think it’s an invalid petition too,” Perdue said.
According to the Constitution, “the Election Commission shall determine, enforce and provide disciplinary actions for all rules regarding SGA-held elections.”
After a meeting April 14, current SGA President Emily McDonald said the SGA Election Commission ruled to disregard the petition based on the contents of the SGA Constitution. A run-off vote was held to decide the winner of the presidential race after the ruling from the Election Commission.
“The Election Commission members carefully considered this request from the candidates and made a decision that was in the best interest of both the students and the candidates,” McDonald said.
The Election Commission is comprised of 11 members. One is also a member of the SGA Supreme Court, two are 'civilian' students and the rest are members of the senate or executive cabinet.
According to election data posted late Tuesday night, 1,525 votes were cast in the SGA presidential race, 753 for Adams and 758 for Cole. Fourteen of the votes were write-ins.
McDonald said this was the cause for the narrow margin in the election results.
“We had a number of students that wrote in to the campaign,” McDonald said. “That number skewed the data enough to where the candidates did not receive a majority.”
McDonald said that based off the SGA Constitution, a run-off vote was the proper response to the situation concerning the election.
“Because all of the procedures are outlined in the SGA Constitution, a run-off is always possible in any election,” McDonald said. “Mathematically, it may seem surprising that with two candidates, a majority is not reached, but the number of write-in votes resulted in neither candidate receiving the majority of votes, which is required per the SGA Constitution.”
Adams and Cole came to the agreement that Friday would be the best day for the run-off election before approaching the Election Commission for approval.
"One of the reasons that the candidates expressed for having the run-off on Friday was to give themselves and their supporters more time to prepare for the next election and also recover from the Tuesday election,” McDonald said. “Elections can be very draining and require a lot of time and energy.”
According to the SGA Constitution, the run-off election would determine the winner based on whichever candidate received the most votes, not which candidate had a majority.
McDonald said the run-off would be exhausting for both candidates.
“I experienced a run-off when I ran, so I know personally it can be a very tiring process, it can really wear you out,” McDonald said about her 2014 SGA presidential campaign. “You’ve been campaigning all day and it can be very tiring. My word of advice would be to push on and persevere.”
McDonald won her SGA presidential office last spring after a run-off election against current SGA Senator Kyle Bieze.
Cole said that some votes were not counted because of proxies, but was elated about another run-off election.
“Back to back run-off years – it is pretty cool for the centennial year and it means a lot and it’s cool to be a part of it,” Cole said.
Russell was surprised at the results of the April 14 election.
“I’m shocked that a candidate didn’t get 50 percent, only having two of them,” Russell said. “But I think that we have two great candidates and think that the fact that neither got a majority shows that either would be able to lead the student body very well.”
Russell received 843 votes in an unopposed race for vice president.
Other election results included Savannah Savage winning the position of SGA Secretary, receiving 761 votes in another unopposed campaign. Miranda Stoltz defeated Chase Womble for the office of SGA Treasurer. Stoltz had 769 votes to Womble’s 429.Adams