Kuenzi, Smit elected with 71 percent of vote after last-minute campaign falls short


Photo courtesy Alicia Smit.

Juniors David Kuenzi and Alicia Smit won the student senate executive team race with 71 percent of the vote Friday afternoon, defeating the last-minute candidacy of junior Osita Mefor and sophomore Aaron Ling.

Kuenzi, the student senate president-elect, is thankful for a smooth campaign, but is already looking forward to next year.

“The people who helped me with my campaign were all phenomenal,” he said. “My support and my friends were all wonderful and very hardworking. I’m really appreciative … and I’m looking forward to not letting them down next year.”

Smit agreed. “We really could not have done it without of the help of our friends,” she said. “I cannot thank them enough.”

A Chimes pre-election poll proved to be accurate, as it showed 72 percent of the student body supporting Kuenzi and Smit.

Student turnout reached 31 percent, which is the same rate as last year, but down from 36 percent two years ago.

Kuenzi and Smit were previously uncontested until Osita Mefor and Aaron Ling entered the race Tuesday night.

“I don’t think I could have asked for a better two teams,” Kuenzi said. “We had a lot of mutual respect for each other. It was a really amiable race in general.”

Mefor was glad to have the opportunity to run in the race despite the defeat at the polls.

“The past couple days have been really stressful, but also a very enriching experience,” Mefor said. “It gave me the opportunity to reach out to the Calvin students who have shown me that they do have a passion to participate and really do want to be heard.”

Mefor congratulated Kuenzi and Smit on their victory, and he hopes that the elected executive team will work to improve senate next year.

“I hope that David, Alicia and the rest of the senate can live up to their promise and deliver. Student senate is not a self-serving entity; it is an organization that represents the students.”

All the candidates in the uncontested cabinet and senator races passed the 500-vote threshold and were elected to next year’s senate.

Ansley Kelly took 79 percent of the vote in the cabinet race, while Jerry Grieser and Connor Schmidt took 72 percent each.

“After two weeks of extensive planning and campaigning, I am very excited to have been elected to cabinet,” said Grieser.

“We are poised to enter a new phase of senate that will focus on student representation, communication and transparency, and seeking and answering student need,” he continued. “I can’t wait to be part of the team that will make those things happen.”

The three students will be assigned a specific role — vice president of operations, vice president of public relations and vice president of representation — at a later date.

In the senator race, Sung Hun Choi won 71 percent of the vote; Binny Chung, 69 percent; Ana VanLenKhuyzen, 66 percent; and Eresnara Utse-Oritselaju, 63 percent.

Because only four senate candidates ran for six spots, two upperclass seats are vacant. According to senate’s constitution, senate will appoint five freshman next fall — three for the traditional freshman senator spots and two to fill the vacant upperclass seats.

Within the upcoming weeks, elected students will prepare for their inaugurations and begin to transition into their roles.

“We’re doing a lot of initiation this spring,” Kuenzi said. “Alicia and I are ready to start talking about all of our plans for next year.”

Current freshman cabinet candidate Jerry Grieser is eager to work with Kuenzi and Smit during the next academic year.

“I am really looking forward to serving under David and Alicia,” Grieser said. “The two are very effective leaders and I believe they will lead senate with the drive that the organization deserves.”

Kuenzi is likewise looking forward to working with the other student senators and cabinet members.

“I’m really happy about our cabinet and about our senators,” Kuenzi said. “I have relationships with Connor, Jerry and Ansley and I think our cabinet couldn’t have been more fabulous. I’m getting ready to know all of them.”