Williams, Koski win with 53 percent of vote

Brittany Edwards received 65 percent of the vote for GAPSA president.

Newly elected MSA president Taylor Williams, right, and vice president Jilian Koski celebrate as they announce their victory on Wednesday night at Vescio's Italian Restaurant in Dinkytown.

Newly elected MSA president Taylor Williams, right, and vice president Jilian Koski celebrate as they announce their victory on Wednesday night at Vescio’s Italian Restaurant in Dinkytown.

 

University of Minnesota students elected Taylor Williams and Jilian Koski as 2012-13 undergraduate student body president and vice president, respectively.

Brittany Edwards, the sole candidate for Graduate and Professional Student Assembly president was also formally elected after becoming the organization’s acting president earlier in the semester.

Williams and Koski received 53 percent of the vote, leaving Colter Heirigs and Angela Ugorets with 42 percent.

A total of 3,716 students participated in the MSA election — about 15 percent of the eligible voters and nearly 300 more than last year’s election.

GAPSA turnout took a sharp downturn compared to last year. Only 395 students voted in the election — less than three percent of the eligible voters — compared to 1,563 the year before.

Twenty percent of those who voted in the GAPSA election opted not to endorse any candidate.

Williams and Koski awaited results Wednesday night at Vescio’s Italian Restaurant in Dinkytown along with about 45 supporters.

Williams stepped out of the building when he received the email with the results on his phone because he wanted to read it in private.

When he returned, the crowd cheered and demanded a speech.

“We did it, but we didn’t do it alone,” he said.

They had the help of more than 60 people who volunteered with their campaign, including students, community organizers, state senators and representatives, Williams said.

Williams said he and Koski won because they reached out to more students than the other pair and had better organization.

“A lot of people on student government support us because they see how hard we’ve worked all year,” he said. “They knew that student government would be a lot better off and accomplish a lot more if we had good leaders in place.”

When Koski received the good news, she said she was “elated” and hugged and thanked all of the supporters.

“I can’t wait to get started and make the University a better place,” she said.

Williams is a junior in the Carlson School of Management studying entrepreneurial management. He currently serves as MSA’s director of student outreach and engagement. He is also a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and is on the Minnesota Debate Team.

Koski is a freshman studying political science. She became a ranking at-large representative at her first forum in September and is also a member of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority.

Ryan Strait, a sophomore studying biomedical engineering, said he thinks people vote for the candidates based on word of mouth and who they’re friends with.

“It’s mostly been people talking about who they know,” he said after voting earlier this week. “There hasn’t been a huge debate on the actual political aspect, at least not for me personally.”

Strait said he voted for Heirigs because the two became friends last year after living across the hall in University Village.

Ian Pierson, a freshman studying chemical engineering, said he voted for Williams and Koski because he heard more about the pair from his friends and on Facebook.

“They seemed to have a more organized campaign because they had people out and about pretty much everywhere I went,” he said Tuesday.

Edwards, who emailed Williams and Koski her congratulations when she heard the results, said she is looking forward to collaborating with the undergraduate student government next year.

Edwards is a public policy student in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Before becoming acting president after a string of resignations in January, Edwards served as executive vice president.

Since then, she has led the discussion of restructuring GAPSA.

Edwards said her first priority will be to focus on creating a strong team of people for next year.