Turney & Mensah square-off in rare student government run-off


Both candidates will compete again for a short, three-day re-election for student body president, and this time write-in candidates will not be allowed.

This week’s Student Government Association elections turned in a few surprises.  First, the total votes cast were far more than had been expected.  With over 1,500 votes cast for class president, this was the highest vote count in recent years.  Though candidate Jacob Turney received the most votes with 692, he and his campaign still could not claim victory. 

Turney had actually won by 51 votes over Ottillie Mensah, yet due to an election rule in the UNC Wilmington SGA Constitution, the election could not be decided by a simple +1 vote.  An election must have one candidate receive 50 percent +1 of all votes tallied for a candidate to be declared a winner.  Since Turney only received 49.5 percent of the vote to Mensah’s 45.85 percent, a runoff election is being held this week.  Voting will take place starting Monday, Feb. 27, starting at 9:00 a.m., through Wednesday, Mar. 1, until 4:00 p.m. The winner will be announced at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

Turney thanked his campaign for their efforts throughout this campaign, especially this past week, and was very grateful to his voters, though, they fell short of a definitive victory. 

“It was a great compliment to get the most votes this week,” said Turney.  “But, it was frustrating to find out that we would need to have a runoff.  The best that we can do is stay positive and push forward this week.”

Mensah, on the other hand, feels slightly different.  “I am not at all discouraged by the election results and my supporters shouldn’t be either,” said Mensah in a prepared statement.  “I see this run-off as an opportunity to campaign harder and get my fellow Seahawks to realize why they need to vote. This campaign is not about me, it’s about my constituents. It’s about their concerns, what they want to see fixed and who they want to represent them.” 

She then added, “I have been in SGA for the past two years and my experiences through SGA has prepared me to run for such a position as Student Body President. I want people, when they vote, to compare the qualifications of both candidates.”

Both Turney and Mensah seem concerned with voter participation due to the short turn around for the runoff.  “Our biggest goal will be to get those that already did vote for us last week to vote again and get more to vote for us, obviously,” said Turney. 

He wants to get the information out to the student body as soon as possible.  Turney and his campaign will be making their presence made and voices heard on Chancellor’s Walk and around campus through Wednesday.  Mensah wants everyone to evaluate this runoff with a clean slate.  “I have put my platform out there for people to read, so at this point it’s about getting folks to vote again. This run-off is not a setback; I see it as a set up for a comeback.” 

This rule in the SGA is a reminder that although a candidate may appear to win an election, sometimes, rules may apply differently to decide an outcome.  Although, the rules and systems are not exactly the same, this rule from the UNCW SGA Constitution and the Electoral College of the United States are similar and demonstrate that those candidates that are perceived to win by a +1 popular vote in a general election may not win due to other rules. 

In fact, it has actually happened five times in the case of a United States [MM9] presidential election: three times in the 1800’s as well as in the 2000 and 2016 elections.  Mensah hopes to set a precedent and tone for the outcome, “No matter which way the results go, SGA will still do what it’s meant to do, be the voice of the student body.”

Other candidates receiving votes: Yasine Mirmozaffari, 11; Emma Lynn Adams 5; Daniel McCord, Ben Phillip Farris, Meredith Irene Lewis, 3; 16 others with 2 votes or less; twenty-two (1.57 percent) abstained from voting for this position.


If you would like to vote in the runoff, visit http://www.uncw.edu/studentorgs/sga/elections.html