Another senator has resigned from SA.
Junior Zoë James left her seat Monday afternoon via a letter to Speaker of the Senate Jake Braniecki.
James was first elected to the Senate for the 2015-2016 academic year, during which she served on the appropriations and campus services committees. The next year, she swapped the latter for a spot on the Senate’s elections committee and was a member of the ill-fated Constitution Task Force.
“She was always a great senator and often a voice of reason when the Senate needed it most,” said Christian Keenan, deputy chief justice of the All-Campus Judicial Council.
“It’s really unfortunate,” senator and newly confirmed Elections and Rules Committee Chair Kamel Awayda said of James’ departure. “I was looking forward to working with her on the Elections and Rules Committee. She was able to critically handle big pieces of legislation.”
One of James’ most significant contributions came as part of her work with the Elections and Rules Committee last year when she authored a bill about Senate speaker selections. The bill changed the selection process so that the incoming Senate would elect its own speaker and deputy speaker, rather than the outgoing group choosing a pair.
SA President Jordan Smith and Vice President Rebecca Mooney, who served in the Senate alongside James in 2015 and 2016, wished James well.
“We’re sorry to see her go,” Smith said in a statement to the Campus Times. “She’s been involved for quite some time now, and we’ll miss her at the table.”
“I’m sad to see her go,” Mooney said. “We’re excited to see what she’ll do. I’m sure she’ll still stay involved in some capacity.”
James told the Campus Times that her two-year run has simply come to an end and said there are more important things going on in SA than her resignation.
“I feel very lucky to be offered this position,” Cortes said Monday night. “I do think I can offer this perspective coming from the varsity sports sector on campus. I am new to Senate, but I am very grateful for the opportunity. I know there are a great many people in Senate excited to get the job done.”
Transparency is a key issue for Cortes.
“When I was running last year, one of the things I found a bit of a problem was that Senate didn’t have a lot of what they were working on available for people to look at,” she said. “I think that as a Senate body we need to be more transparent with what we are working on.”
Cortes added that she would like to work on an online toolkit to keep students informed and that she would like to see “an online form for students to give their thoughts on what’s going on in Senate.”
She also hopes to work on issues relating to club and varsity sports and SA programs like SafeRide.
Cortes will be the eighth senator representing the Class of 2020 and will serve as senator for the entirety of the 2017-2018 academic year.