Lea Toubian kept her victory statement to the Nexus short: “I’m incredibly humbled to have been elected. Time to get back to work.”
Students elected the fourth-year political science and environmental studies double major to be the third Associated Students (A.S.) president of the 2020-21 school year, A.S. Elections Board announced Thursday evening in a live webinar.
Toubian won with 53.83% of the vote, while Carlos “Andy” Ruiz, a fourth-year sociology major running against Toubian, received 46.17%.
Toubian is currently the chief of staff for the president’s office and centered her campaign around the message that she could start working immediately after being inaugurated, unlike Ruiz, who would have required a transition period.
“If this was a brand new term, and there was an entire year to get all of that done, I would say that [Ruiz] may be just as qualified or he may be capable of it,” Toubian said in her endorsement interview with the Nexus. “I think what it really comes down to is that this is a really short term.”
In a phone interview after the results were announced, Ruiz said that he was left feeling grateful to all those who supported him throughout his campaign, and that he’ll be continuing his work as the deputy chief of staff for the External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA).
“I was willing to run for this position to do more with a platform, but that doesn’t take away from what I have right now,” he said. “[I’m] definitely focusing on the EVPLA office, the projects I already have at hand as deputy chief of staff, so I can hop on projects that are tangible for making sustainable change. I still have a lot to do.”
“I’m grateful, I don’t feel like I’m coming away from this empty-handed,” he said.
Toubian’s election comes during an unprecedented year for A.S., as former President Daevionne Beasley stepped down in Fall Quarter 2020 amidst an allegation of sexual assault and an impending recall effort to remove him from office. Internal Vice President Tianna White then became the interim president in October to fill the role until a special election could be held in Winter Quarter 2020. Toubian will serve for less than four months, when her term ends in the fourth week of Spring Quarter 2020.
A.S. Elections Board required a 4% voter threshold in the special election for the results to be valid. By the time voting closed Thursday afternoon, 2,045 students voted, or 9.02% of undergraduates.
“This winter special election specifically had an extremely impressive turnout for a special election,” Elections Board Chair Andrew Yan said during the webinar. “I’d say it’s definitely a university record for a winter special election.”