Controversy looms over SGA elections

Two weeks after more than 2,000 students voted for SGA leaders, there is still no president, vice president or sophomore attendant for the 2003-2004 school year.

Larry Rivers and Virgil Miller, candidates on the presidential ticket, won 1381 of the students’ votes in the runoff elections, over 400 more votes than Travis Williams and Aziza Bowser’s 936.

But despite the desires of the student body, Rivers and Miller may not be the next SGA president and vice president, according to Electoral Commissioner Mike Lipford.

“These are not the winners or losers,” Lipford announced to the students at the Voter’s Comedy Jam in the Gaither Gymnasium March 6.

Lipford would not disclose any information about the pending case that hindered presidential election results.

Sophomore senator Ryan Morand said the judicial branch is still deliberating on whether appeals made by Larry Rivers about the elections will be accepted or denied.

“I think it’s owed to the students to know the final decision of the judicial branch of the student government on the appeal for Larry Rivers,” said the 19-year-old business student from Tampa. “With all the drama going on with the elections I feel that there’s a need for a solution for unanswered questions because our student government is at stake,”

Lipford also said there is no word on FAMU’s newest sophomore attendant because of a “possible disqualification” of one of the candidates.

Both candidates, Kimberly Brown and Christy Hunt, each received 420 votes in the runoffs.

Brown may be disqualified from the race for amassing too many points during campaigning. Lauren Darensbourg, a campaign worker, confessed to sabotaging Brown’s campaign, which allowed her to stay on Tuesday’s ballot.

Candidates are penalized points throughout the campaign period for violating various campaign rules. After obtaining 30 points, the candidates are subject to disqualification.

Lipford said the real winners for the sophomore attendant and presidential tickets would not be announced until sometime after Spring Break, but there is still no word on when.

The runoff election results came with some close calls, with Kim Pate winning the title of Miss FAMU by less than 50 votes over Ashia Everett, and Stephanie Johnson winning the junior attendant position by four votes over Jessica Martin.

“(The junior attendant results) shocked me because Jessica led a really strong campaign,” said Robert Clemmon, 21, one of Pate’s campaign managers. “She only lost by four votes.”

Clemmon, said the race this year for Miss FAMU was “the most difficult campaign.”

“It was highly competitive and (the elections) were very untasteful campaigns,” said the junior political science student from Detroit, citing campaign sabotages and scandals. “We, throughout the campaign, kept a clean campaign and stayed loyal throughout the entire campaign,” Clemmon said.

The senior attendant race was also close, but Brooke Jenkins managed to win the race by 15 votes, getting 217 to Tiffany Zeno’s 202 votes.

“It was hard work but it paid off,” Jenkins said. “So I’m excited.”

Tiffini Baskins won the position of Queen of Orange and Green over her opponent Krista Brown by more than 100 votes.

Vice presidential candidate and Senate President Bowser said she is still waiting for the decision on River’s appeal to find out if she and Williams will become the next SGA leaders.

“We’re definitely disappointed that we didn’t win the majority of the student votes,” Bowser said. “But the students who voted for us were loyal and believed in us.”

Rivers said he was “very humbled and honored” that he and Miller won the most votes in the presidential election.

“I feel terrific,” Rivers said. “The students of Florida A&M University have spoken as far as who they want to lead this university.”

Bowser said no matter the outcome, she and Williams would continue to serve the student body.

“That’s our first priority,” Bowser said.

Rivers said he does not believe his appeal case will discount his unofficial win for president.

“I don’t think it’s going to hinder us,” Rivers said. “I still think the students’ voices is going to be heard.”