A festival atmosphere took over Foundry tonight as candidates and campaign teams gathered for the culmination of an intense two-week campaign for the eight SU officer positions, two elected Student Trustees, and two referenda.
In addition to confirming our membership of the NUS, and establishing new Societies and Sports Councillors for SU Council, Emily Jones and Lorenzo Omar were elected as Student Trustees, with 431 and 573 votes respectively.
The International Students Officer result was not announced tonight, following a statement published by the Returning Officers.
Festivities opened with a nail-biter of a race, with Beren Madison squeaking out a nine-vote lead on first preferences over Sadie Base – 1319 to 1310. Voters clearly loved the pink branding of both, while Dot Hakim achieved a creditable third place, with 990 votes. The election went to Hakim’s second preferences, which swung heavily behind Maddison, widening his lead to 91 votes.
After the announcement of the result, and a standing ovation from a large crowd of supporters, Maddison took the chance to thank supporters: “They’ve helped me make the campaigns and the events I’ve wanted to run so big and exactly what I wanted. I’m so in shock. I always thought it was going to be close.”
Asked about mental health, Maddison spoke about the need to look at less commonly discussed forms of mental health, to build on existing welfare successes.
Maddison’s key pledges focus around providing support for working students, reforming welfare committee, and holding regular office hours for student surgeries, among others. He’ll have to work to enact those promises once current Welfare Officer Katharine Swindells finishes her term this summer.
The Welfare Officer election saw the smallest turnout of any officer election this year, with only 3,718 votes cast.
Development was the smallest race this year, with just two candidates on the ballot – Harry Carling and Jordan Weir. The result was a huge margin for Carling, with 2908 first preferences against Weir’s 1,303. 207 voters opted to Re-Open Nominations.
After advice from sitting Development Officer Mel Kee to “be radical”, Carling’s result was met with a rapturous reception in the room, and he thanked his supporters with a speech in which he thanked her, and said: “She’s done an absolutely fantastic job in the role. She’s been so inspiring to me.”
He also paid tribute to former Development Officer Megan McGrath, and added: “To everyone who has run for a role this year – you’re all such wonderful people, it’s been a pleasure to run with you.”
The two candidates ran on very similar environmentally-focused platforms, and held a very agreeable live debate last week, but it was Carling’s policies of loyalty schemes for SU outlets, digital Ucards, and an expansion of the Zero Waste Shop which won the day.
Martha Daisy Evans took a huge swathe of votes on the first count of this ten-way race, making eventual victory all but assured. She won 1,381 votes to second placed Bethan Jones’ 760. Despite this commanding lead, the vote went to preferences, with Evans emerging on top by 1,904 to 1,190.
She admitted in her victory speech that she hadn’t prepared any words, but elaborated in her interview after the announcement. “I’ve been thinking about running for quite a long time. I think I’m running on things that are needed.”
As Activities Officer, Evans will be tasked (amongst other things) with implementing improved society storage facilities and a Societies Showcase.
Sports Officer aptly went to a photo finish, with just 57 votes separating Brittany Bowles (1,397 votes) from Mem Swanborough (1,343) and Annie Timmis (1,340). In the end, preferences from Timmis split evenly, and Bowles took the gold on the second count by 1,766 to 1,690. She said: “A massive thanks to Cheerleading – I wouldn’t be on this stage if it wasn’t for them. A massive thank you to Sarah, who basically inspired me to even go for it. Genuine thanks to everyone who’s voted for me.
“Sport is more than just sports – it’s everything attached to it, like friends.”
The Women’s Officer race saw five candidates throw their hats in the ring, and three candidates – Rosa Tully, Cara Mahon and Grace Thambyrajah – took the bulk of the votes. Rosa Tully emerged victorious, with 1,365 votes in the first round, building to a 1,717-1,387 victory over Cara Mahon after preferences.
The race passed without much controversy, and Tully will now be tasked with challenging racism and Islamophobia, ending period poverty on campus, including more women in the curriculum and engaging in outreach with the local community.
In 2016, Dom Trendall’s victory as President was met with a rousing round of socialist anthem The Red Flag. Charlie Porter’s victory for Education Officer received a round of Happy Birthday. The Officer-Elect is one year older today, and now has the next year mapped out, after a final-round margin of victory of 1,968 to 1,606 against Jaz Catlow. Ben Warner came third with 938 votes, while Sam Nash made fourth with 425.
Charlie Porter has made some serious promises through this campaign, around cutting rent, supporting trade unions on campus, and fighting cuts to student services. It’ll be up to him to carry those pledges through following outgoing Education Officer Anna Crump-Raiswell.
After two weeks of sound and fury, it wasn’t all that close. In a result overturning the four-year record of Union-insider Presidents, going back to at least 2014, Jake Verity won the Presidency at a canter, with a 300-vote leader over Emily Doyland in second place, with Gabe Milne coming in third. Anti-Presidency candidate Ashley Routh took 425 votes and fourth place.
Speaking on stage after the result was announced, Verity called a gracious round of applause for the other candidates. “I’ve run against some of the best candidates I’ve seen in my entire life. They deserve so much credit for everything they’ve done.”
Verity was elected in a third-round run-off against Emily Doyland after preferences from the other two candidates were distributed. His final majority of 287 votes was the closest since the bruising 13-vote margin in 2016.
The campaign was marked by the fieriest of the Forge Debates, with all four candidates going at each other’s policies on society funding, student welfare, and victor Verity’s flagship pledge of an SU music festival. Any eventual festival will have to perform better than Contours, the last attempt at an SU festival, which was not renewed after low ticket sales in 2015.
In addition, Jake Verity will now be tasked with his other pledges when taking office in July. He has pledged to create an SU app, fight for £1 bus fares, establish a mental health committee and build an internship networking site.