Jackson '15, Mancenon '14 reflect on USG victories
Riding support from a Class of 2016 that voted for him by a two-to-one margin, Class of 2015 senator Shawon Jackson was elected USG president Saturday following a campaign period complicated and delayed by allegations of campaign violations. Jackson defeated USG social chair Benedict Wagstaff ’14 by 86 votes, according to vote tallies released on Saturday morning. Jackson earned 51.9 percent of the vote.
Jackson will be joined on the executive committee by Carmina Mancenon ’14, who was elected USG vice president with more than 57 percent of the vote. On Friday, another vice presidential candidate launched a failed attempt to disqualify Mancenon, the current USG Campus and Community Affairs chair.
The voting patterns were split clearly along class lines. In the freshman class, Jackson doubled Wagstaff’s vote count — 403 to 202 — and won his sophomore class by a slim margin. Wagstaff defeated Jackson handily among Wagstaff’s junior class, 374 to 244, and won the senior class as well, but only 443 seniors cast ballot in this election, the lowest turnout of any class. The final vote tally was 1,178 to 1,092.
Jackson said that he thought the underclassmen who “played a large part” in his victory voted for him because he is an underclassman himself. Wagstaff attributed his poor performance with the freshman class to the difficulty in getting to know freshmen on campus during a week when he was planning many campus social events, like the Hoodie Allen concert and the bonfire.
The presidential race became tense after Wagstaff circulated a chart on Facebook comparing the project management success of the presidential and vice presidential candidates. The USG initially penalized Wagstaff for negative campaigning, but the penalty was overturned by the USG Senate in an emergency meeting Tuesday night.
Jackson said he remained optimistic and focused on his own campaign throughout the race.
“It was not my place to retaliate,” he said.
Wagstaff, who praised the work of the elections managers, said the plethora of tactical allegations took away from campaigning.
“I don’t know why people found the need to complain so much,” Wagstaff said. “I’m not sure if that really benefits anyone.”
Mancenon was also the target of a campaign violation allegation when fellow candidate U-Councilor Elan Kugelmass ’14 filed a last-minute appeal on Friday seeking to disqualify Mancenon. The attempt failed when two of his supporters pulled out, and Mancenon beat Kugelmass and Class of 2015 social chair Danny Johnson. Mancenon got 1,211 votes, while Johnson received 491 and Kugelmass 407.
Johnson is a copy editor and contributing news writer for The Daily Princetonian.
As Mancenon received more than 50 percent of the vote, she has been elected outright and there will not be a runoff between the top two contenders this week. Mancenon said she expected a runoff and was surprised one was avoided.
Though she won her election, Mancenon acknowledged that she is disappointed that Wagstaff, whom she is dating, was not also elected.
“Part of me is sad that Benny won’t be president,” Mancenon said. “I think Princeton will miss out on not having Benny on USG in the capacity that he could have served in."
Jackson and Mancenon have not yet collaborated on USG projects, but both of them said they were looking forward to working with one another.
“I never had a chance to really work with Carmina, but from what I heard she does incredible work. I am very excited to work with her next year,” Jackson said.
Because Mancenon has never worked with Jackson, she explained, it would be premature to predict how the top USG leadership would work together.
“But Shawon is a very capable guy and very easy to get along with. I hope that Princeton doesn’t regret voting for either of us,” Mancenon said.
Jackson emphasized that his goal for the coming year is to increase communication between the USG and the student body. He said he is hoping to receive ideas and feedback from students in order to best cater to what they want. He plans to send out a survey to the student body at the beginning of next semester, he said.
“My biggest hope is for USG members to always remember why we do the work we do, and that is to serve the students,” Jackson explained.
Though the USG is usually led by a junior, Jackson follows the footsteps of recent USG president Michael Yaroshefsky ’12, who was elected as a sophomore and served two terms as USG president. The most recent sophomore president before Yaroshefsky was David Calone ’96, who was elected USG president in December 1993 and also served two terms.
Jackson noted he would be interested in running for reelection next year when he is a junior, though he explained that it is too early to definitively make that call now.
In other elections, both incumbent senator Charissa Shen ’14 and senior executive secretary John McNamara ’14 were elected Class of 2014 senators.
For the Class of 2015, two new senators were elected, as Jackson will leave his post as a senator next semester. Incumbent senator Deana Davoudiasl ’15 was easily reelected. Zach Ogle ’15 came in second place and will also serve as senator. He bested Eric Swenson ’15 by 70 votes.
In the nine-way race for two spots as Class of 2016 senator, Eduardo Lima ’16 and Ella Cheng ’16 cleared the field. Lima earned 252 votes and Cheng 251; the closest opponent, Marcus Stroud ’16, won 196 votes.
All committee leadership elections were uncontested. Carla Javier ’15 was elected social chair, Trap Yates ’14 was elected Campus and Community Affairs chair, Gregory Smith ’15 was elected University Life Committee chair and Dillon Sharp ’14 was elected Academics Chair. Christina Yu ’14 was also elected treasurer in an unopposed race.
Yates is an associate editor for Street; Javier and Cheng write for the news section; and Davoudiasl writes for the Prox.