Story by Alexandre Silberman, Jack Sparks and Ally Buchanan
Craig Fernandez will be the next president of the University of New Brunswick Student Union after a narrow election victory.
“I haven’t had much time to celebrate or enjoy it, but it’s been surreal,” Fernandez told The Brunswickan as he was heading to Ontario on a March break road trip. [I’m] over the moon, answering phone calls and texts, responding to all the friends that have reached out.”
Fernandez edged out candidate Sydney Rankin, picking up 835 votes, or 55 per cent, of the 1,519 cast. Rankin finished with 684 votes.
The election saw the highest voter turnout since 2010, with more than 30 per cent of eligible students taking part.
Fernandez said he wanted to congratulate his opponent for running a respectful and honourable campaign.
“Sydney’s a close friend of mine, as a lot of people know,” he said. “I’m really proud of her as a leader and I hope that her leadership and her skill in all this continue and she keeps taking on opportunities and being awesome.”
Fernandez is a third-year Renaissance College student, minoring in business administration. He has previously served as a one-term student senator, and is the current inclusion representative on the Student Union council.
Now that he’s been elected, Fernandez said he plans to sit down and meet with current president Richard Du for guidance on the transition.
“I think the first thing should definitely be setting our goals and intentions for the next year; we’ll get more specific and we can talk again after those meetings have happened,” Fernandez said.
Rankin said in a statement she is “deeply saddened” by the result but finds comfort in the high voter turnout and engagement by the students with the Union.
“We ran a campaign with integrity and more passion than this campus has ever seen—and are watching necessary conversations blossom from it,” she wrote.
Rankin ran on a slate with vice-president advocacy candidate Mick Jeffries and vice-president student life candidate Anthony Gatto.
Gatto lost to Isabella Gallant, a second year psychology student from Prince Edward Island. Gallant received 754 votes compared to 705 for Gatto.
Jeffries received 929 votes to defeat opponent Kordell Walsh by a comfortable margin. Jeffries is currently celebrating his successful campaign and election into the role in Toronto, at the Jack.org mental health conference.
After the news of his election, Jeffries said he plans on recharging and committing to his final year as the co-lead of the Fredericton Jack.org chapter. He plans on finishing strong with his time with the chapter, as he will not be returning in the fall.
Jeffries is in his final year at Renaissance College, minoring in sociology. He is from the Inuit NunatuKavut community of Charlottetown, Labrador.
When asked where he plans on starting in his new position, Jefferies said his passion currently lies with mental health services and awareness. He would like to work with vice-president internal Grace Mangusso to make it a policy for professors to include a section of mental health resources on course syllabi.
"I have so many passions and things I want to implement. Of course, it’s important to take things one project at a time," he said.
He also plans to secure smudge kits for use in the Union’s “Think Tank” room and executive offices. These are used in traditional Indigenous smudging ceremonies.
Mangusso, who ran on a slate with Fernandez, was elected in an unopposed race for vice-president internal. Samuel Arseneau, who ran unopposed for vice-president finance and operations, was also elected.
Both referendum questions on the ballot also passed. The Brunswickan successfully increased its media fee, and the UNB Sustainability Program received support for a $1 fee to create a sustainability fund.