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Kirksey/Ball win student body presidency, vice presidency in runoff election

Kirksey Ball

Kaitlyn Kirksey (right) and Kirstin Ball (left) won the student body presidency and vice presidency, respectively, in the SGA run-off election held Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kaitlyn Kirksey and Kristen Ball will serve as the 2019-2020 Oklahoma State University Student Body President and Vice President.

The runoff election results were announced Wednesday night.

Kirksey/Ball won the runoff with 1088 votes. The Dunn/Gragg campaign was the other candidate pair in the runoff and received 981 votes to finish runner-up.

The announcement came after allegations against all three of the campaigns were filed. The accusations forced the SGA Supreme Court to take action. The SGA Supreme Court's findings were released to the public this past weekend.

The original election results were posted as a result of the SGA Supreme Court's findings. Dunn/Gragg won the original election with 1436 votes. Kirksey/Ball received the second most votes in the original election with 1,010, and Swanson/Chancelor wasn't included in the runoff election after it received 965 votes in the original election.

The SGA Supreme Court ruled the Dunn/Gragg campaign would receive a level 2 violation, which prevented the campaign from making new material or campaigning for the runoff.

The accusation, which Kelsey Briggs, Ashley Shultz, Aaron Carmichael, James Hood, Catherine Appling, Lexi Barry and Samantha Buckalew filed,  that caused the SGA Supreme Court to issue the level 2 violation claimed the Dunn/Gragg campaign handed out green balloons with fliers attached to them that had QR codes linking to the election website.

The SGA Supreme Court ruled this was a violation of bylaw 4.3.4, which states no candidate/candidate pair may distribute any form of enticement, according to the SGA election bylaws.

The Kirksey/Ball campaign did not have any restrictions after the SGA Supreme Court’s findings were announced.

After the results were released to the public, Kirksey said the objectives the pair hope to accomplish as Student Body President and Vice President remain constant.

“The goal is to bring all areas of campus into student government,” Kirksey said. “Just because in both of our experiences, it’s been kind of ‘Here is SGA over here, and then everybody else.’ We really want to make sure that every student knows at least about SGA and has the opportunity to be connected with SGA.”

Kirksey said the Kirksey/Ball platform was created with the intent to reach out to the student body in four separate ways. Kirksey explained what her campaign contained that students can benefit from.

“We want to make sure that when we invite students to what we are doing, that they feel welcome and are wanting to contribute because they are feeling safe to do so,” Kirksey said. “Something that we are planning on continuing doing is town halls, and so that is something that me and Kristen will put on the calendar every month so that students have access to us whenever they need to express concerns or needs.”

Kirksey said the process she will focus on throughout her term as Student Body President relies heavily on inclusion, advocacy, outreach and transparency.

“Specifically in (advocacy), we’re wanting to highlight and engage students with resources on campus.”

Kirksey said the campaign's communications team will play a “really important part” in reaching all of the student body.

Kirksey also said the process the campaign team took throughout the campaign was focused on following the SGA election bylaws, despite the Supreme Court hearing about alleged campaign violations from the first election against her campaign.

“For us, it was really important that we stuck to what the bylaws currently say,” Kirksey said. “Now, we know that there are problems with the bylaws. We don’t deny that. But we knew going into the race that these were the bylaws that we were going to be governed by, so we did everything we could to take precautions to make sure that everything our team did… We were explicitly following every rule to a T and then covering a little more with the cushion of safety.”

Kirksey said she was proud of the turnout for the runoff election.

“I’m very excited that that many people believed in us,” Kirksey said. “If you look historically at runoff elections, there’s a fraction of the people that typically vote in runoffs (who) have voted in this one. People really showed up for us, and for me, we’re really excited to show up for the students.”

Vice President Kristen Ball said no matter what the results were, she is proud of her campaign and team.

"It was incredibly exciting and rewarding to find out that we actually get to enact our ideas and our plans and to serve our fellow peers,” Ball said. “It was incredibly overwhelming (when the results were announced). Kaitlyn and I were squeezing each other’s hands real tight as we were waiting, but we had kind of just an initial flood of people congratulating us.”

Ball said she is planning to work with the SGA to update some of the bylaws and help strengthen her relationship with the senators and students.

The Presidential and Vice Presidential inauguration will be held on April 26, where Kirksey and Ball will assume their new positions.

“In our transparency platform, we really want to take a look at these bylaws that are outdated and could use improving and more clarification,” Ball said. “Working with the Internal Affairs Committee and really having a cohesive bond between all areas of student government… So just making sure that we are all aligned and working towards the same goal which is to serve our peers and represent our peers and the university.”