Special SA presidential election today

by Alexander R. Edlich | 5/5/93 10:00pm

The craziness seems to have past. Or maybe it's just beginning again.

Dartmouth voters head to the polls today in a second effort to elect a Student Assembly president. The Green Key Society will sit and count ballots and perhaps the saga of Assembly '93 will putter to a halt.

The last time around Stewart Shirasu '94 waltzed off with a solid victory, the result of a widespread conservative, pro-Greek mandate.

But then came the allegations -- fraud, overspending, theft -- and a resignation faxed from Hawaii.

There were claims of right to the presidency by the vice president-elect and the first runner-up and finally an Election Advisory Committee decision to hold the special election.

Three candidates have jumped in to try and fill the conservative, pro-Greek void left by Shirasu.

Fewer could be more pro-Greek than Mark Daly '94, the president of the Coed Fraternity Sorority Council. Daly is battling against Matthew Berry '94, the vice president of both Republicans at Dartmouth and the Conservative Union at Dartmouth and Michael Massengale, the chairman The Dartmouth Review, the off-campus conservative weekly.

The swell of conservative candidates has opened the door for more centrist and liberal candidates, according to candidate Andrew Smith '94 said who has billed himself as "the only liberal candidate and proud of it."

Nicole Artzer '94 and Mark Harrison '94 have both consolidated their moderate stances.

Harrison, the only black candidate, has refocused his campaign on minority issues, winning endorsements from the Afro-American Society and the Dartmouth Area Gay and Lesbian Organization.

Artzer who finished second in the original election is the only woman in the race. She asked for an endorsement from the Panhellenic Council, the governing body of the College's sororities, and was denied. But her moderate, pro-Greek stance was endorsed by Vice President-elect Steve Costalas '94 and the Coaltion for a Responsible Student Assembly, a group of the junior and senior class presidents and vice presidents.

The candidates are tired but not nearly as fatigued as the voters, plagued by a second round of campaign posters plastered through dormitories and vociferous election oratory.

Approximately half of the student body voted in the last election: 1,785 ballots cast with the winner taking 604 or 34 percent. Voter turnout is expected to drop.

President of the Class of 1996 Alex Lehmann said there is "no incentive for people to show up and vote." He said he sensed a growing disatisfaction and apathy among the freshman class, typically the class which votes the most.

"People are tired of voting and SA politiking -- of the posters and the debates," Lehmann said. "Seventy percent of students don't even care about student government in the first place."

Matt Garabedian '96 said the Assemmbly has lost respectability.

"I haven't noticed anthing the Assembly has done for me," he said. "Students are saying, 'I voted last time and look what happened.' I waited an hour and a half on line to vote. People want other people to take care of it."

Adding a twist to the Special Election is the fact that the vice president and the makeup of the general Assembly body are already known. In the April election, voters echoed their cry for change by electing 15 of 21 candidates from a group called Reform SA!

Members of the group, which supported Shirasu Costalas are conservative and staunchly pro-Greek.

According to the Assembly Consititution, the general Assembly can impeach the President with a two-thirds majority. Reform SA! will hold enough Assembly seats to meet the two-thirds requirement, and could theoretically impeach a president the group does not like.

Bill Hall '96, a member of the Assembly who ran on the Reform SA! ticket, said such a move would be unlikely.

"All of the candidates are at least going to try and work with the Assembly, besides Massengale," Hall said. "But whoever is elected is going to set the politics aside and roll up their sleeves and get to work."

Auguste Goldman '94, one of the six non-Reform SA! candidates elected to the Assembly's general body in April, said, "there will be no impeachment."

"Even though people have political biases, we all have a common goal -- the betterment of student life," he said.