Madia-Murphy is ticket to ride

by Tracy Ellingson

Voters in Wednesday and Thursday’s all-campus elections have spoken, and they declared that they want action — at least 12 months of it.
Jigar Madia and his running mate Bridgette Murphy, who attempted to sway voters with their unconventional campaign tactics and an agenda dubbed “Twelve Months of Action,” learned Thursday night that they had seized the election for Minnesota Student Association president and vice president.
“This has been a true effort of the students,” Madia said, minutes after receiving the results. “We got our message out and the students responded.”
The duo received 931 votes of the 1,792 votes cast. Their nearest opponents, Corey Donovan and Kiaora Bohlool, finished the election with 672 votes. The third ticket of Derek Shemon and Jason Strid, which has been considered the darkhorse of the race from the start, received 140 votes.
Forty-nine write-in votes were also cast for a variety of candidates, including God, Homer Simpson and University President Nils Hasselmo.
The final count between the closest rivals drew similarities to last year’s race in which last year’s MSA presidential and vice presidential winners Helen Phin and Eric Hanson beat their closest opponent by nearly 320 votes.
The total number of votes cast this year represented only about 6 percent of the undergraduate student body. Last year about 13 percent voted in a race that featured five tickets.
But Hanson, who supported Madia and Murphy and helped in their election said this race was unique in that the students probably made more educated votes.
“Last year’s vote was really decided by empty votes from uninformed voters,” Hanson said. He said that last year as a candidate he spent the election days drawing in voters with candy rather than a strong campaign platform.
“This year we didn’t attempt to persuade people’s empty votes,” Hanson added.
The Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils, which represent the greek community, gave their endorsement to Madia and Murphy three weeks ago to kick off the election season. The victors are the first candidates in the past three years to win the election after receiving the endorsement. The pair was also endorsed by Students Against Fee Excess and The Minnesota Daily.
The winners and about 40 supporters gathered at campaign volunteer Todd Schenk’s home in Stadium Village to wait for the phone call from the election commissioners — a call that came at about 11:15 p.m. Schenk, a senior in the Institute of Technology, helped out at the campaign by passing out literature while wearing a gorilla suit.
“I hope when we talked to people we were really able to convince them in what we stand for,” Schenk said.
Just hours before the call came in, Hanson and John Ray, who ran for MSA president against Phin and Hanson last year, sat in a circle with Madia and Murphy coaching them on the best way to receive the news.
“(The phone call) is something you won’t forget either way — win or lose,” Ray said.
At Hanson’s suggestion, the pair took the phone call alone and then raced down the stairs in smiles to tell their supporters the news.
“We won!” Madia shouted, causing the crowd to clap, shout and pump their fists in the air in excitement.
After pressure from the group to give an impromptu speech, Madia and Murphy thanked their campaign team and other supporters profusely.
“We couldn’t have done this without you,” a widely smiling Murphy said.
Madia and Murphy will take office May 15. Leaving themselves little time for post-election relaxation, the pair’s first goal in the “Twelve Months of Action” is to put students on each semester conversion committee at the University. The University expects to switch from a quarter to semester system by September 1999.
If Madia and Murphy make good on their agenda, students can expect to see the MSA president- and vice-president-elects accomplish a new goal every month. Those goals include increased safety on and around campus, an improved book buy-back program, reunited student seating at hockey games and use of the U Card at local businesses.
But for the time being, Madia and Murphy commended Shemon and Donovan for a campaign well run.
“It was an honor to run against them,” Madia said.
Murphy added, “They both had really great ideas.”