Vito Martino and Lance Floto won the Students’ Association (SA) presidential and vice-presidential election Wednesday night, narrowly beating out their rivals in the most crowded race in UR history.
The juniors’ outsider campaign raked in 647 votes, according to the unofficial results posted online that night, winning by a margin of 63 over SA veterans and fellow juniors Erinmarie Byrnes and Dan Matthews.
The remaining three tickets brought the total number of presidential and vice-presidential votes to 2,088, compared with 1,361 from last year’s race. Almost 2,000 students voted in the elections overall. (Students can vote for more than one ticket.)
Martino and Floto were in the Delta Upsilon (DU) floor of Wilder Hall—Martino is a brother of the fraternity—when they heard the results, and jumped and hugged as friends swarmed around them, cheering.
When asked how they felt about their victory, Martino offered one word: “Amazing.”
“There definitely wasn’t a frontrunner in the race,” he said, explaining that he and Floto—both of whom ran without a campaign manager and with a relatively small social media presence—weren’t sure how the election would turn out. “It could’ve gone either way.”
For the two, the campaign “was definitely a whirlwind,” as Floto put it, and Martino’s absence for part of it, missing last Wednesday’s debate, didn’t help.
They attributed their victory mostly to their wide connections with different student groups.
Floto has been a member of the Students’ Association Appropriations Committee, Eye to Eye, UR Makers, Debate Union, and Meliora Capital Management.
Along with being a brother with DU, Martino has been a member of UR Foot, Student Alumni Ambassadors, Men Opposing Violence Everywhere, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences E-Social Committee.
The two also thought their status as outsider candidates—having little to no SA experience—contributed to their win.
“I think having an outsider running maybe appealed to those people who thought there was something currently wrong in the Students’ Association,” Martino said. “I just think there was something in our campaign that appealed to those individuals. Maybe it was a breath of fresh air.”
His and Floto’s relative lack of SA experience doesn’t seem to shake their confidence moving forward.
In fact, they think it sends a message.
“I hope this is an ignition for people to realize you don’t need to have experience to be in SA,” Martino said.
He explained that SA Senator Delvin Moody had perhaps said it best, before the election concluded: “‘It’s not zero years versus three years of experience—it’s zero years versus one year,’” referencing the now–year-old SA Bylaws that reshaped the government’s system.
The two plan to meet with outgoing executives and seniors Grant Dever and Melissa Holloway and learn as much as they can to “hit the ground running,” Martino said.
“It’s just a matter of learning now,” his running-mate added later.
Dever said Wednesday night that he is “confident that Vito and Lance will do a great job,” saying that he and Holloway “are certainly prepared to transition them.”
Dever added that he and Holloway plan to address the “drama” of the campaign in a coming statement, and that he’s excited to see next year’s SA.
On that note, Martino and Floto have yet to map out their cabinet strategy, but said they’d welcome their campaign rivals’ applications if they were interested.
“We really want people who are good at communicating with the student body,” Martino said. “I think that’s what SA needs.”
He and Floto have no hard feelings for their competitors, who they think spotlighted important issues during the campaign.
“What’s important to them is obviously important to parts of the student body,” said Floto of their rivals’ platform points.
In statements after the unofficial results were released, many of the losing tickets congratulated Martino and Floto on their victory.
Much of the praise for the winners came from running-mates sophomore Caleb Krieg and junior Nico Tavella—who garnered 427 votes—with the pair pointing to Martino’s election as an SA outsider as a success for their campaign.
“In the midst of this tumultuous and record-breaking SA election, we feel our campaign has accomplished one of our goals: proving that students outside the exclusive SA social circle can reach positions of power in student government,” they wrote in their statement. “A person with no prior SA experience is now our next SA President. Vito is a testament to that achievement.”
Junior Saad Usmani and sophomore Cindy Molina, whose write-in campaign votes were still being tallied Wednesday night, heaped similar praise on Martino and Floto, writing, “We truly believe that the student body made a good choice.”
Before heading off to celebrate his victory, Martino was optimistic about his transition into the highest office in SA, highlighting that more important than his lack of experience will be his role as an advocate for his constituents.
“I think, just lacking one year of experience, it’s pretty easy to catch up,” he said. “But with that being said, the job of the President is to be a voice for the students.”
“I think if the students believe in you and what you’re going to do, I think that’s what makes an effective president.”