WSU Tri-Cities student government elections end in tie

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldMarch 31, 2014 

The four students vying to lead Washington State University Tri-Cities' student government knew they were in for a close election.

But they didn't think there would be a tie.

"Honestly, I couldn't believe it," said Rigo Leon, a Kennewick junior and student vice president running for student president.

Students spent Monday voting in a special runoff election, choosing between Leon and his running mate, freshman Alfredo Ramirez of Pasco, or the opposing ticket of Kennewick juniors Romeo Cantrell and Madison Rosenbaum.

Student election and university officials expect to have a clear winner today. What's to be seen is if a drawn-out and slightly more partisan election will hamper the winners' efforts once in office.

"There might be a little dissent from what we want to accomplish," Rosenbaum said.

WSU Tri-Cities had 26 percent of its eligible student voters turn out for the original election last week, the highest percentage among WSU's campuses, officials said. Each president-vice president ticket received 156 votes, while four students voted for write-in candidates.

Close elections are common, but officials said a tie election is rare.

"It was a surprise," said senior Jonathan Lee, a member of the student election board working a polling station in the West Building Monday afternoon.

Cantrell's and Rosenbaum's platform focuses on fostering more cooperation between student government and student clubs as well as diversifying student activities.

"We understand education is important but without the college experience you'll just get burned out," Cantrell said.

Leon's and Ramirez's main goal is getting a student union building built on the Richland campus, which students said in an advisory vote in the original election they would support. The pair also are promoting transparency and continuity in student government.

"Students should know what's going on with their money," Leon said.

The two tickets represent different goals and interests among the student body, said student involvement coordinator Allison Rodgers. Cantrell and Rosenbaum are both majoring in the humanities, while Leon and Ramirez hail from professional programs in business and engineering.

"They're definitely different candidates and attracted different students to their message," Rodgers said.

Turnout for the special election was coming in just a little below last week's numbers though candidates said they haven't shied from campaigning. Leon and Ramirez praised their campaign team, saying they were getting good feedback from students. Rosenbaum and Cantrell said they're interacting with students who still are confused they have to vote again.

The possibility of student discontent following the runoff election is possible, Rodgers said, as similar situations have happened at other campuses with tight elections.

"No matter who gets elected, that's something I as an adviser will have to work with them on," she said.

Leon and Ramirez, though, aren't concerned and say student government will continue to operate smoothly regardless of a victor.

"The public opinion right now is the best person will win and the students respect that," Ramirez said.

-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald

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