The race for Associated Students Inc. president delivered a curveball Thursday, as Chief Justice Lizbeth Velasquez defeated President Genesis Jara in the lowest voting turnout in five years.
Velasquez prevailed with 55 percent of the vote, to Jara’s 45 percent. ASI Director Richard Haller noted that as of Wednesday evening’s Senate meeting, voter turnout was below 10 percent of the student body.
Velasquez was not able to attend the announcement of the election results in person. However, she described her reaction to the news.
“I received a text from a friend of mine saying ‘MY PRESIDENT’, and I immediately understood that I had just won the elections,” Velasquez said. “I was overfilled with joy and tears, as the campaign process was not easy for me. During the course of the campaign season, I was crammed with five midterms, two reflections and two term papers. However, as a full-time and working student, it made me realize and empathize with the everyday struggles of students even more. I hope to be able to build a more inclusive and innovative student government that will help students in all their endeavors on and off campus.”
Jara offered her reaction to her defeat:
“I would like to thank all students that voted in this year’s ASI elections,” Jara said. “I am looking forward to the the new student leadership continuing to serve our students in greater ways, and ensuring the progress and success of our organization.”
In other races, incumbent Vice President Leen Almahdi narrowly defeated challenger Justin Contreras, 51 percent to 49 percent. Chief Government Relations Officer Reyalyn Villegas bested opponent Dominick Martinez, 63 percent to 37 percent, to become the new ASI Treasurer.
“When they announced that I was elected as treasurer, I was absolutely ecstatic,” Villegas said. “I felt honored and thankful that the student body gave me a chance to represent and serve them. I’m very much looking forward to this new step in my journey as a student advocate and working with everyone in making sure that we offer to the students everything we possibly can.”
For the ASI Senate seats, only six new candidates ran to fill the senator-at-large positions, which represent the entire student body. Since there were six seats available, all of the available candidates were elected.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the spelling of Lizbeth Velasquez’s name. It was updated March 26 at 2:07 p.m.