UCF SGA announces runoff election after absence of majority vote


No one won the 2018 UCF SGA presidential election.


A presidential runoff election was announced Wednesday after none of the candidates received a majority vote. 

Josh Boloña and Jad Shalhoub, along with Karen Caudillo and Theressa Tong, will head into the runoff election, which runs from March 19 through March 21. Brad Kuehler and Breon Clark are now out of the running after losing to Caudillo and Tong by five votes.

The remaining candidates must receive 50 percent plus at least one vote to win the election. Boloña and Shalhoub received 38.47 percent of votes, while Caudillo and Tong received 30.61 percent, according to the UCF SGA report. 

The report states Kuehler and Clark received 30.56 percent of votes.

Students could also vote on an amendment to UCF SGA’s Constitution, which focused on simplifying the wording of the Constitution, SGA Supervisor of Elections Ashlyn Sanchez said. But she said students could also choose not to vote for either item. 

A UCF SGA report stated a total of 9,026 students voted in the election, down approximately 21 percent from the 11,435 votes cast last year when Nick Larkins and Cristina Barreto wonThe SGA presidential election received 9,000 votes, while the constitutional amendment received 7,391 total votes, according to the same report. 

The constitutional amendment passed with 83.72 percent of students voting in favor of it, according to the report. 

Boloña said he felt honored to move on to the runoff but said receiving the highest number of votes will not impact their campaign.

“We’re not going to let that get to us,” Boloña said. “We understand it’s binary, either you’re in or you’re out of the next election. You start fresh again. Nothing that happened this past election rolls over, so it’s a new beginning for ‘A New Beginning.’ ”

Caudillo became emotional after hearing her name called in the Student Union during the election results.

Caudillo, a first-generation college student and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient, said she felt the sacrifices her parents made paid off as she heard her name announced.

“Nothing has ever been handed to us,” Caudillo said. “Nothing has ever been handed to me. I came to UCF my sophomore year in high school  before I had DACA, before I could drive with a driver’s license, before I even knew that I was going to be able to afford going into higher education.”

Boloña and Shalhoub’s first plan if elected will be to keep SGA Cabinet applications open until at least five students apply for each position in order to accurately represent UCF’s diverse campus, Boloña said.

Caudillo and Tong said one of the first things they hope to do if elected is to create a Diversity and Inclusion Division within the Executive Cabinet and create three positions focused on multicultural and religious diversity, intersectional diversity and governmental outreach.

Caudillo said she and Tong hope to win the runoff election and represent all students regardless of religion, gender, sexual orientation, identity or status. The duo plans to create a welcoming community at UCF for all students, Caudillo said.

UCF SGA presidential candidate Karen Caudillo and running mate Theressa Tong celebrate after making it to the runoff election.

Kuehler, who is SGA’s chief of staff for two more months, said he’s already been working on addressing some student concerns throughout this administration. 

“One of my ideas on the original platform was to grant in-state tuition for Puerto Rican student evacuees, and actually we accomplished that during our administration term,” Kuehler said.

Kuehler said he wouldn’t have done anything differently during their campaign.

“I’m just so proud of what our team did, all the things we were able to accomplish and we were able to do,” Kuehler said. “It was an amazing experience.”

Janay Jefferson, a sophomore psychology major, decided to help the Caudillo and Tong campaign after Caudillo told Jefferson about her platform while she was in line at Qdoba in the Student Union.

Jefferson said she mainly supports the female duo because of their focus on campus safety. She said she also supports their plans to increase the number of self-defense classes offered by the UCF Police Department.

Jefferson said she is also impressed by the duo’s stand against sexual assault on campus.

“It could easily be me, it could be my friends, it could be anyone, so the fact that they’re like ‘Let’s give people the consequences, the repercussions they deserve’ — you have to be for it,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson said she was sure Caudillo and Tong would win but was surprised Kuehler and Clark did not move onto the runoff.

Tommy Pastor, a freshman business management major and UCF Student Government Leadership Council member, also based his vote on campus safety but believed Kuehler and Clark had the best platform regarding the topic.

Pastor said he was surprised by the results and expected Kuehler and Clark to have a better chance moving forward than Caudillo and Tong.

“I’m really happy that it turned out this way,” Pastor said. “Although I was going for Brad and Breon, I feel like it was fair. UCF voiced its opinion and that’s what matters most, and now we need to choose and see who’s the best for this university.”

Pastor said the UCF community needs to ensure campus safety, especially after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, last month that left 17 dead. He said past school shootings are also a concern.

“Just making sure we do what we need to do now before that ever happens here because, honestly, I never want that,” Pastor said. “ Nobody wants that.”

A third presidential debate will be held March 19 at 5 p.m. in the Cape Florida Ballroom in the Student Union on UCF’s main campus.