By Emily Wangen
In a contested University of Iowa Student Government election, one ticket surged ahead of the rest to come out of the two-week-long campaign season victorious.
Students nervously sat in the Hubbard Commons in the Iowa Memorial Union Friday awaiting the preliminary results of the UISG election held Wednesday and Thursday on MyUI.
For the executive race, Hira Mustafa and Heath Schintler from the UI SURGE Party prevailed over candidates Benjamin Nelson and Nate Robinson (Empower Iowa), Bridgeen Lynch and Lucee Laursen (Envision Iowa), and Dady Mansaray and Marshall Payne (Student Collective Party).
Elections Commissioner Johanna Hetherington said the result was determined after four counts of instant runoff after no party received a 50 percent plus one amount of votes, which UISG election code requires to declare a winner. Empower Iowa came close but ultimately was eliminated in count three of the instant runoff, making SURGE the winner.
It was a competitive election with the most amount of tickets running since 2008, the last time four tickets ran. Only 25.08 percent of eligible voters voted in this election.
“Before we even started getting results, I considered what our party did a success and so I didn’t need this to feel proud of my team,” Mustafa said. “I’m very excited to carry out all of the things that the student body cared about and wanted us to change.”
Mustafa said the first order of business once she takes office is to make everyone feel welcome in order to move forward.
“There’s a lot of rebuilding to do in terms of creating a group identity, because it was such a political election this year, and as much as we can, work to mend all of those bonds and form a unique vision together moving forward,” Mustafa said.
Despite losing the presidential race, Mansaray from the Student Collective Party said he hopes to continue to serve UI students by applying for an executive position with UISG.
“I hope the SURGE president and vice president will consider me in one of those cabinet seats I will be applying for to continue to trying to improve the communication gap that we have between students and government,” Mansaray said.
Lynch from Envision Iowa said she will be back next year and hopes to run again.
“We ran a good campaign with the circumstances we were dealt,” Lynch said. “I think every member of our ticket stepped up.”
SURGE Party senatorial candidate Sammy Stoll, who also serves as president of Active Minds, said she was beyond ecstatic to learn she had won a seat so she can advocate for mental health as a member of UISG. Stoll noted her vice president of the mental health advocacy organization was also elected to UISG Senate.
“Mental health is going to be a priority at the University of Iowa,” Stoll said.
Empower Iowa senatorial candidate Austin Wu looks forward to continuing to advocate at all levels of government for UI students. Wu received the fifth highest amount of votes for senator in the election.
Nelson from Empower Iowa said the election started a conversation about the role of UISG on campus and what it looks like moving forward. While he is not expecting the end result to change, he noted the election results have not been finalized yet.
Per election code, election results will be certified by the Election Commissioner after review of each ticket’s campaign finance reports, violation hearings, and satisfaction of any penalties.
The Student Judicial Court released its verdict Friday regarding potential election-code violations, finding the UI SURGE Party responsible for the alleged falsification of campaign-finance records but not responsible for the alleged intimidation of Envision Iowa ticket members.
“Obviously there have been some headlines of some complaints that still need to be finalized and those types of things, so we’re waiting to hear back,” Nelson said.
The inauguration will take place April 28 at 1 p.m. at the University Club, 1360 Melrose Ave.
Sarah Watson contributed to this story.