SDSU votes to elect 2015-16 Associated Students leaders

by Emily Brennan, Staff Writer

Associated Students announced its 2015 election results Thursday, March 19, reporting a nearly 15 percent voter turnout and declaring Blaire Ward the first woman elected as A.S. president since 2004. 

The results, announced at the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union’s Montezuma Hall, revealed a voter turnout of 14.6 percent with 4,221 votes counted, up from last year’s 9.9 percent voter turnout. A.S. had set a 20 percent voter turnout goal for this year’s elections.

Ward received 2,183 votes, or 60 percent of the votes from the presidential pool, beating competitors Jeremy Zaida and Chelsea Baer. 

The Judicial Affairs Council is scheduled to approve the new leaders on Wednesday, March 25, at which point the results will become official.

San Diego State has not had a woman as A.S. president since the 2004-05 academic year in which Kelli Kedis was in office.

“I’m really proud to step up and represent females, I think we need to have another woman in this role and I’m really excited to step up and be the person that other females can look up to,” Ward said.

Ward and her team plan to be the first A.S. executive officers to put in place a strategic plan.

“The first step is to put a task force together to develop what this plan is going to look like,” she said. “We want it to carry on for the next few years for student officers and we want it to be student focused.”

One of the many goals outlined in the initiative will be to strengthen the alumni support through the Aztec Mentor Program.

election results chart“Alumni is one of our university’s most valuable resources because they can prepare students for life outside of college,” Ward said. “After they get the degree, most students want a job, so it’s a great program to have put in place, and I’m really going to try and improve upon it by collaborating with Career Services.”

Joining Ward as new leaders will be Leo Carrillo as executive vice president, Tyler Aguilar as vice president of external relations, Dominic Bilotti as vice president of financial affairs and Andrea Byrd as vice president of university affairs.

Carrillo was the only new leader elected outside of Ward’s campaign team.

“Those are all my best friends and I know all of them very well so it is not going to be a hard process to work with all of them,” Carrillo said of the elected representatives. “(Campaigning) by myself, I feel very honored to have had the support system that I did.”

One of Carrillo’s main goals for the upcoming school year is to meet with all student organizations active on campus.

“I’m most excited about going to every single organization’s meetings and thanking them and asking how I can serve them,” Carrillo said. “Almost no one I talked to knew who their five A.S. leaders were, and so I want to make that more transparent.”

Aguilar, vice president of external relations elect, plans to focus on successfully marketing events to students.

“There are so many great organizations like (the Equal Opportunity Program) and (Asian Pacific Student Alliance) that have these amazing events and they just have a little trouble getting students there,” Aguilar said. “I also want to work more with the local community, establish good relationships with all of the local schools and make sure SDSU is being shed in a positive light.”

Bilotti, the next vice president of financial affairs, said one of the biggest challenges is making sure to listen and be tolerant. SDSU has seen a number of protests in the academic year, including a protest against the Ferguson shooting decision, a die-in protest and the rallies against sexual assaults.

“This year, more than I have seen in years past, there has been a lot of activism on campus and our job as A.S. leaders is to represent the voice of students and it is easy to just say, but it’s another thing to accurately do,” Bilotti said. “We have to make sure that we are listening.”

Bilotti’s goal is to grow Aztec’s Rock Hunger’s success by encouraging recognized student organizations to get more involved.

“I want to set up a more of an incentive based program within our (recognized student organizations) to increase participation because then our numbers could really shoot up,” Bilotti said.

Byrd, the next vice president of university affairs, hopes to increase academic resources, connect students to the campus community and enrich students’ college experience.

“It is way too easy to just show up to school and go home … but my college experience has grown since I’ve gotten involved and I just want every other student to have that same opportunity,” Byrd said. “I want everyone to be informed and involved.”