Isla Vista Party will hold a majority within the Associated Students executive branch for the 2021-22 school year, with the newly founded Storke Party capturing one seat — the presidency.
In its first year on the ballot, Storke Party edged out the Isla Vista Party by one senate seat, taking home a total 12 compared to Isla Vista Party’s 11. Three seats were filled by independent candidates, two of whom were write-ins. No party retained a senate majority this election, as it would have taken at least 14 seats to do so.
Isla Vista Party did, however, yield a higher proportion of elected candidates relative to its slate, entering the election with 15 candidates compared to Storke Party’s 21.
The full list of senator-elects can be viewed here.
This year’s election yielded the lowest voter turnout numbers in five years, with 24.16% of undergraduates — 5122 students — voting, meeting the 20% voter turnout threshold by only 4% earlier today. The election, which was hosted in a Zoom webinar format as opposed to its traditional in-person location at the University Center Hub, garnered 125 viewers, according to Andrew Yan, elections board chair.
By contrast, last year’s A.S. elections — also hosted on a Zoom webinar platform — had an undergraduate voter turnout of 28.84% and a viewership of 350.
President-elect Yuval Cohen, a third-year political science and philosophy double major and Storke Party’s only executive branch win, claimed the presidency over fifth-year earth science major Shva Star, who ran with Isla Vista Party. Cohen’s victory was the closest executive win of the evening, with 55.41% of the vote going to her and 44.59% of the vote going to Star. Both candidates were members of this year’s 71st A.S. Senate.
“I’m feeling super excited of course and it’s honestly very surreal but I’m ready to get to work ASAP and accomplish all of the goals and platform I ran on!” Cohen said in a text to the Nexus Thursday evening, noting that the election was so nerve-wracking she asked her parents to come to Isla Vista and spend the evening with her.
Isla Vista Party candidate and fourth-year political science, sociology and environmental studies triple major Esmerelda Quintero-Cubillian beat Storke Party’s candidate Phillip Huynh, a third-year political science and history of public policy and law double major, for External Vice President for State Affairs (EVPSA).
Like many other executive candidates elected tonight, Quintero-Cubillan will be working in an in-person capacity within A.S. for the first time during the 2021-22 school year.
“Definitely shocked, definitely a lot of joy. All of today, I’ve been anxious … I’m just so thankful for everyone that supported me,” Quintero-Cubillan said.
Quintero-Cubillan said that the first thing they want to do is “extend an invitation to as many organizations as possible … to ensure that there’s widespread distribution and knowledge that people can get involved in the office.” She also want to “start mobilizing students to prepare against the vote to raise tuition by the Board of Regents.”
Quintero-Cubillan said that they are looking forward to advocacy work with the Board of Regents on behalf of students.
“We have a lot of barriers coming up. [The] Board of Regents meeting is going to be super important because we’re seeing four big votes: one for tuition, one for Maunakea, one for the militarization of UCPD and then lastly, workers rights and accessibility to health care for [United Auto Workers] workers. So, that’s going to be my first big project and I’m really looking forward to it,” Quintero-Cubillan said in an interview with the Nexus.
Huynh was not immediately available for comment.
The Internal Vice President position went to Isla Vista Party candidate Bee Schaefer, a third-year biology major, who won over Storke Party’s Gurleen Pabla, a second-year political science major.
Schaefer did not respond to requests for comment.
The next External Vice President for Local Affairs (EVPLA) is third-year environmental studies and sociology major Shannon Sweeney, another Isla Vista Party candidate and current chief of staff in the EVPLA office.
Sweeney, who beat out Storke Party candidate and transfer communications major Anahita Jafary for the position, said that watching the election night Zoom was anxiety-inducing, but she couldn’t look away.
When she found out she won, Sweeney said she broke down in tears.
“The first thing I did was call my mom to tell her,” Sweeney said. “I couldn’t believe it. I felt like a freshman again, being a fellow in the EVPLA office. And now I’m here.”
Jafary said she felt that Sweeney’s experience with the office would ensure that Isla Vista is in good hands.
Geovany Lucero, a fourth-year feminist studies major who ran unopposed, will serve as the next Student Advocate General (S.A.G.) for the 2021-22 term.
Lucero said they are energized and excited to begin organizing their office and team and reminisced about how far they’ve come.
“This is kind of a message to myself because I was doubting myself this year,” Lucero said.
“Early winter quarter, I was ready to drop out, and I was already creating plans of how to live my life without an undergraduate degree. I remember being so hopeless, and I was looking for a future without an undergraduate degree,” they continued. “But my mentors, my friends, the people around me who care about me, reminded me about my character and my strength, to find whatever springs I have left to push myself.”
In addition to senators and executive candidates, all 33 fee reaffirmations on the ballot passed.
For the first time in A.S. history, two international senator seats — which were approved on last year’s ballot — were up for grabs and filled by two freshmen: first-year sociology major April Zhang and first-year pre-economics and accounting major Aijia Wang.
Katherine Swartz and Max Abrams contributed reporting.
Correction [4/23/2021 2:05 p.m.]: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the EVPSA position was the most closely contested position of this year’s election, when, in fact, it was the presidency. This article has now been corrected to reflect that change.