This election season saw an overall increase in turnout across faculty buildings, most notably in Carysfort, the Smurfit campus which saw graduate students turnout in the hundreds to the polling stations. With the returning office indication that the total number of votes reached over 4,000, there has been a steady 5 per cent incline in student voting over last year’s sabbatical elections, which saw 6 candidates stand for president.
PRESIDENT – Joanna Siewierska
With only 41 votes difference between the candidates, Joanna Siewierska has been elected President of UCDSU. After the first vote, the Returning Officer called for a recount due to the number of spoiled votes being enough to tip the race. After heated discussion from the campaign teams and distribution of the reclaimed spoilt votes, Ag student Michael Geary was the first candidate to be eliminated after RON. Geary secured 1164 votes amounting to 28% of the total vote. Declan Kelly reached at a total of 1656 after the second recount of votes, leaving Joanna with 42% of the total vote. In her acceptance speech, Siewierska said she was “lost for words” and thanked her campaign team and supporters. She told a packed crowd in the Clubhouse Bar, “I can’t wait to start to deliver. They’re not here today but if it wasn’t for my friends in the Irish Second-level Students’ Union, whom I started this journey with, I wouldn’t be standing here today – so a massive thank you to them.”
“[This] is an incredible mandate. I can’t wait to start working and doing things for students, to deliver on what I promised and more, ” she said. Siewierska congratulated her opponents, Michael Geary and Declan Kelly, for a closely fought race before the Clubhouse erupted in cheers.
EDUCATION – Brian Treacy
Unsurprisingly, the uncontested candidate for Education Officer, Brian Tracey, has won his seat. With an uncontroversial campaign and well researched manifesto points, his 91% vote share trounced the RON vote. In his acceptance speech, Treacy thanked his family and jokingly referred to everyone who voted for RON “come to my office next year.” He relayed his thanks to everyone who voted in the elections and expressed his optimism for the year ahead.
WELFARE – Úna Carroll
Next to the Presidential race, Welfare was the closely contested with Úna Carroll beating George Merrin by 245 votes, only 7% of the overall race. Carroll claimed 492 votes in her home faculty of Arts & Humanities, while Merrin gathered 436 in the Science faculty over the two days of polling. Merrin thanked his campaign team after the results were announced and while Carroll told students that she couldn’t wait to start the job.
Campaigns & Communications – Katie O’Dea
Katie O’Dea was elected with 88% of the vote. Losing a not inconsiderable percentage between RON and spoiled votes (11.9% and 12.3% respectively), her victory felt assured from early in the day, with her running uncontested and being a well liked candidate across the board. In her home constituency, Arts and Humanities, she won 89.81% of the vote and her highest scoring constituency was Engineering with 92.31%.
While it is not uncommon for RON to make up a solid percentage of the vote when a candidate is uncontested, with some voting to re-open nominations as a generic protest of the union and some voting so in protest of a single candidate election, it is worth noting that O’Dea received a higher percentage of RON votes than her fellow uncontested candidate, incoming Education Officer Brian Treacy. It is premature to say that this is due to her being a woman, however it has been demonstrated that over the last 5 years, female candidates for sabbatical positions in the Union are less likely to receive votes in some of the constituencies she polled the worst in, namely Agriculture, Veterinary Sciences and Sutherland.
As the Union’s new constitution passed with an overwhelming majority, O’Dea’s position will transition to the title of Campaigns & Engagement Officer.
GRADUATE – Conor Anderson
Graduate was a surprisingly close race, considering Uthra Lakshmi pulled out of the race shortly before Hustings, and was entirely absent from campaign spaces thereafter. In fact, she and Conor Anderson, the actively campaigning candidate, tied in the count of the second Arts and Humanities polling box. Despite this, Anderson did succeed in gaining 59.63% of the vote, and was elected Graduate Officer for the 2019/2020 academic year.
With only six of the nine available College Officer roles receiving nominations and one only one of them being contested, this election season saw a higher turnout for college officers, most likely due to the interest in the hotly debated referenda. Engineering & Architecture saw SU-veteran Joshua Gorman-Climax elected to the role with 256 votes, equating to 72% of the overall turnout. Lucy Dornan was elected Science Officer with 446 votes, while Molly Gervin achieved victory in her race for Health Science Officer on 418 votes. The two-seat constituency of Arts & Humanities saw Robyn O’Keeffe and Emily Gallagher elected with 512 and 275 votes, respectively. Law was the only contested race for College Officers, and Molly Greenough came out on top with 220 votes, ahead of Joe Boyle’s 158.
There will be a by-election held for the Business, Agriculture, Food Science and Vet and Irish Language Officer to fill those positions.
Additional reporting by Brían Donnelly, Dylan O’Neill, Heather Reynolds, Nathan Young & Fiachra Johnston