Anxious students gathered on the steps of Jesse Hall on Wednesday evening, awaiting the results of a runoff election for the Missouri Students Association presidency. The result: a win by a margin of less than 1 percent.
Tony Luetkemeyer and Cheryl Tomes won the positions of president and vice president, respectively, with only 50.74 percent of the vote. Sixty-nine out of the more than 4,500 votes cast determined their victory against Ben Coen and Craig Kleine.
Only undergraduates may vote for student government; right now, about 22,000 students are eligible.
Tara Brandenburger, chairwoman of the Board of Elections Commissioners, said the close race was proof that students are beginning to care. She said she was surprised that the number of votes fell only about 700 short of the number cast in the original election in November.
“I am thrilled,” Brandenburger said. She was expecting only 2,000 or 3,000 votes.
MU freshman and MSA Senate member Fred Veinfurt stressed the importance of student voting in presidential elections.
“The president is running a budget of a million dollars of our own money,” Veinfurt said. “They make the decisions of where that goes.”
Sophomore Robin Miller said student government presidents do more than many realize. “I don’t think that students are knowledgeable of what MSA actually does for them,” she said.
Luetkemeyer and Tomes now plan to execute the plans mapped out in their platform, including tackling campus safety issues.
“We hope to get all of them done during our term in office,” Tomes said.
They have a proposal for the late-night ride program, STRIPES, that would allow students to fulfill mandatory community service hours by volunteering in the program. The newly elected leaders hope to increase participation in STRIPES, which just celebrated its 30,000th ride.
Tomes and Luetkemeyer also want to install more blue safety lights around MU’s campus and build another parking garage.
Luetkemeyer said he and Tomes will look to the other candidates for support during their term. The pair plans to hold an open forum to hear others’ suggestions.
“Our platform did not cover everything,” Luetkemeyer said. “It would be an advantage to get input off all of the platforms.”
Luetkemeyer said many of their ideas have the support of administrators, which he thinks is a sign that he and Tomes can accomplish a lot of things.