FAU Elections Board has new Chair

Dylan Bouscher

Former Pro-Tempore, Kevin Varela, has stepped into the role of Elections Board Chair in the wake of Tom Levy's recent resignation from the position. Photo by Charles Pratt.

Kevin Varela was late to turn in his application, and the last person to be interviewed, but he is officially the new Elections Board Chair in Student Government. He now has less than a month to prepare the upcoming SG Elections.

In his report to the Senate, Student Body President Ayden Maher mentioned that former Elections Board Chair Thomas Levy resigned two weeks before the meeting on Jan. 19. “He resigned due to the fact that he changed his major from Political Science to Education,” said Maher, who confirmed and approved Varela at the same meeting. After getting the new job, Varela resigned from his position as Speaker Pro-Tempore at the Boca House of Representatives meeting Friday Jan. 20.

Levy had to take on a 9-5 internship Monday through Friday so he would be able to graduate this semester. Also having a part-time job made it “not possible or feasible for him to run a smooth election,” according to Maher.

After explaining why Levy resigned, Maher said, “Kevin has done a great job in the House of Representatives” about Varela, who graduates in May. “He’s going to be able to run things smoothly as we go into the spring election.”

Varela envisions an election with debates moderated by the UP, commercials that play on Owl TV in the Rec Center and Cafeteria, and a partnership with OwlRadio. Varela also wants a countdown to be broadcast everyday reminding students how long they have until Election Day.

Owl TV Station Manager A.J. Jordat said “ideas have been pitched,” although he has not spoken to Varela directly. Owl Radio Station Manager Tiffani Tyler said she does not know who Kevin Varela is.

Varela went through two interviews in the selection process, one with Maher and VP Robert Huffman, and the other with SG Director Heather Bishara. Varela said, “It was definitely a nice process. I’ve known them all for over a year now.”

After admitting that he applied late Varela said, “I didn’t think I would get the position. I think I was the last interview.”

In their two lengthy conversations, Bishara and Maher described the position and asked Kevin if he knew anyone on the Elections Board, or anyone running for Elections Board Chair, to follow policy when they appointed him. After making sure Varela didn’t know anyone, Maher asked Varela if he would be willing to work twenty hours a week in an executive position, as opposed to meeting once a week as he did in the BHOR.

Maher encouraged Varela to apply after he looked through the applications and didn’t find anyone “ready-available to do the elections in six weeks.” Since Varela had been Speaker Pro-Tempore in the BHOR, he knew a lot about the SG Statutes, how to chair a meeting, and the rules members have to follow during them. These qualities made Varela a perfect fit, according to Maher.

With SG Executive Elections taking place on Feb. 28 and 29, Varela said, “I wasn’t too happy with how little time I’ve been left with, but I think it’s something that can be accomplished.”

Varela is also in charge of the debates between the SG presidential candidates. For the debates, Varela is hoping for clear skies so he can host them in the Traditions Plaza in front of the bookstore. If that doesn’t pan out, an auditorium like Live Oak would work just as well. Varela expects the debates to be taped and sent to other campuses.

Last year, SG elections cost students close to $20,000, with $8,100 paying the salary of the Chair. The SG Elections are funded by the A&S fees all students pay as part of their tuition according to SG’s budget.

To deal with the candidates, Varela will take a strong approach. “I’m going to bring them the 300s Statutes and it’s going to be very straightforward,” said Varela. The statutes Varela referred to are the guidelines for SG elections.

 

“Yes, I have less than a month and a half to pull [the elections] off, less time to pull the debates off, and even less time to get people interested, but when I have these great people behind me, honestly, the sky is the limit.”

SG Elections will be on Feb. 28 and 29. Click here for more information on the Elections Board.