Emma Leonardo Solorzano officially disqualified from the Jupiter governor race

The Student Court upheld the decision announced by the Election Board on Feb. 27 during Friday’s hearing.


Melanie Gomez, Features Editor

A hearing was held at the Jupiter Campus on March 17 after the Election Board disqualified Jupiter gubernatorial candidate Emma Leonardo Solorzano due to violations. 

Solorzano was the unofficial winner of the Jupiter gubernatorial race but was disqualified after she violated two statutes, including a minor violation of reporting campaign finances by the deadline and going over the campaign expenses limit. The gubernatorial race for all three campuses has a campaign spending limit of $1,000 limit in order to ensure no candidate has an unfair advantage. 

Solorzano went over the limit by $25.82, which she reported in her campaign expenses. Solorzano testified at the hearing. 

Solorzano held herself  accountable for her errors and admitted that it was a mistake and that it was not done with malice.

“I did not hide or attempt to conceal the violation, which demonstrates my integrity and respect for the elections process. The election’s code of ethics also emphasizes the importance of truthfulness and motivation, which I upheld by self-reporting the violation,” said Solorazano during her opening statement.

According to her testimony, she had overspent on her campaign due to a mistake with a Microsoft Excel budgeting spreadsheet. As a result, she initially believed that she still had enough money remaining and did not go over the limit.

Regardless, she decided to report the exact expenses to the Election Board while also contacting the other two Jupiter gubernatorial candidates, Ibrahim Gheit and Claire Sanford, when she realized her mistake. Both Gheit and Sanford did not contest the unofficial election results.

Based on the evidence that was previously submitted, Solorzano had spent the majority of her budget on 70 campaign t-shirts from a Deerfield Beach-based t-shirt printing company, including an additional rush order fee to get the shirts in time. However, the Student Court questioned if she could have benefitted from her shirt spending. Solorzano upheld that she did not heavily benefit from her spending on campaign materials as her campaign shirts were only given to family, friends, and close supporters. 

Solorzano also reported that she had spent money on campaign posters intended for tables as well as photos with friends that have attended her five tabling events over the course of the election season. 

Gheit had also attended the hearing as a witness in support of Solorzano. While Gheit was a rival of Solorzano in the election, he spoke in his testimony that he thought highly of her as a leader and that she was a deserving candidate to win the governor position. 

Claire Sanford’s campaign picture. Courtesy of Donald Van Pelt, assistant vice president for Student Engagement.

Gheit also mentioned that it was not made clear to  candidates how  seriously the statutes were going to be upheld during campaign meetings, however, he did state that he did not look at the statutes in detail whereas Solorzano mentioned that she did.

After just a little over an hour of deliberations, the Student Court members, while appreciative of Solorzano’s honesty, decided that they could not make any exceptions. SG Chief Justice Benjamin Cohen announced that they would uphold the decision made by the Election Board and would not hold another election. In the end, Cohen announced that runner-up Sanford would be declared the official winner of the Jupiter gubernatorial election.

Solorzano was not able to provide a statement prior to the article’s publication. 

Melanie Gomez is the Features Editor for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, you can contact her at [email protected] or on her Instagram page @cupidfloats.