Tessendorf and DeWild win ASA presidential elections by 21 votes, voter turnout increases despite online-only campaigns

The first ASA elections held solely online brought a high number of voters and a slim margin of victory in the presidential race.

Students elected Cole Tessendorf and Hannah DeWild as Augustana Student Association’s (ASA) next president and vice president, respectively.

After a competitive race, Rahn said Tessendorf and DeWild received 49.93% of the votes, winning by 21 ballots. The other presidential and vice presidential candidates, Hailey Nold and Giselle Mawadri, received 47.4%of the votes. 2.65% of voters abstained.

Although many students are no longer on campus, voters showed up to the Viking Central polls in higher numbers than past years. In total, 829 students voted in the election, a 7.5% increase in voters compared to the 2019-2020 election according to ASA’s election commissioner Carly Rahn.

Tessendorf, a junior biology major, served as ASA chair on the curriculum council this year. DeWild, a junior nursing and Spanish major, has not been a member of ASA in previous years.

“I think we have a really good team, and we’ll be really good for ASA and Augustana next year,” Tessendorf said.

The new secretary and treasurer are juniors Kristina Theodosopoulos and Hunter Lipinski, respectively.

Mason Blue, Fahd Nazir, Katie Orton and Caleb Timmerman were elected senior senators. Junior senators are Brayden Harris, Ellie Holmes, Arden Koenecke and John Walker. Students elected sophomore senators Cooper Benning, Courtney Chrystal, Mekhi Moore and Tsegab Arega.

Rahn said the high number of voters could be attributed to candidates being “creative with their tactics” in online campaigning. Candidates went live on Instagram, shared templates for supporters to post and sent email and text messages.

“At first it seemed like this big challenge, but I think they actually  made it worthwhile to the point where we actually had really strong voter turnout,” Rahn said.

 Tessendorf and DeWild’s campaign includes plans for working with the president’s diversity council, establishing a more convenient recycling program, recognizing support staff and funding transparency. They plan to add study spaces, a syllabus archive, optional preferred pronouns on BuzzBook and a Lyft ridership program.

Tessendorf said he has been working on the Lyft program with ASA already, but the project will be among the first completed in his presidency. DeWild said rides could benefit students without cars, international students and fans going to sporting events.

Another project the team hopes to implement quickly is a system for students to provide their preferred pronouns and names on BuzzBook. They hope to finish the project by July so it can be ready for incoming students.

Tessendorf said they have heard many ideas from students that were incorporated into their campaign and will continue to modify plans according to student suggestions.

“I don’t want to just push a project how we’ve campaigned for it here,” Tessendorf said. “I want to implement the project that would best work for students.”

DeWild is especially looking forward to sustainability projects, starting with large events like move-in, Viking Days and Elmen Late Nights. She says she hopes to reduce plastic use at these events and assist in recycling or reuse of materials.

“Those are just little measures that will make a huge impact on our carbon footprint at Augie,” DeWild said.

DeWild and Tessendorf decided to run for office together because they have been friends for years, involved in different areas of campus and work well as a team.

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