Student council election season underway

Juniors Daniel Garcia (left), George Fisher (center), and Noah Kotlarek (right) are all vying for the presidency. (Eagle Photo/Henry Adair)
Juniors Daniel Garcia (left), George Fisher (center), and Noah Kotlarek (right) are all vying for the presidency. (Eagle Photo/Henry Adair)

It’s election season at St. Thomas again. On April 18, three pairs of juniors vying to become the next Student Body President and Vice President gave their pitches to the student body in Reckling Gymnasium.

The speeches added substance to an election that has already swept the school with humorous posters, construction hats, and campaign buttons. Most juniors seem to have already chosen their candidates in the past week. The candidates platforms, however, are hardly distinguishable.

For the first time ever, The Eagle is able to report on the election using polling data collected from the student body before the official election on Monday.

A poll of 90 random students shows the race is a virtual dead-heat. 5 days before the election, presidential candidate Noah Kotlarek seems to have a slight edge on his opponents, with 35.6% of students reporting they plan to vote for him. Daniel Garcia and George Fisher are virtually tied for second, with Garcia polling at 34.4% and Fisher at 30%.

While presidential candidate and junior Barrett Gregory was absent from the town hall, his running mate Noah Kotlarek made sure he was present in another form. Junior Isaac Flanagan represented on Gregory’s behalf. (Eagle Photo/Henry Adair)

Noah made a memorable impression in his speech, even in the absence of his vice presidential candidate, Barrett Gregory. Because Gregory had prior commitments and was out of town during the speeches, junior Isaac Flanagan spoke on his behalf with a heartfelt endorsement for Kotlarek and Gregory. This outside endorsement, coupled with Noah’s humorous cardboard cutout of Gregory’s face, apparently gained him enough favor among voters to put him in first place as of Thursday.

Noah’s message centers around giving the student body a greater voice and representing the kind of students that are often overlooked.

“I would be a good Student Council president because I will communicate with the student body, faculty/staff, and fellow student council members. I will sacrifice my time, and probably my grades, to make sure the projects get done in a timely manner. On August 11, 2017, when I take office, the carnage will stop. I will ensure that all members of Student Council: freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, are active and have something to do,” Kotlarek said.

He boasts his “No Eagle Brother Left Behind” Policy, reporting that he believes classism is a serious problem facing STH.

“No longer will the seniors have a vote that counts more than the underclassmen,” Kotlarek said.

Juniors Daniel Garcia (left) and Michael Banks (right) are both running for office. (Eagle Photo/Henry Adair)

Garcia and Banks made a very practical appeal to voters, attempting to prove that they are the most qualified and dedicated candidates. Garcia made the bold move of stepping out in front of the podium to personally connect with voters, casually and confidently explaining how his experience makes him the most polished option for the job.

“I know I would be a good president because I know what the people want. I can accomplish goals that will benefit students and student-athletes in both regular and advanced classes. I get stuff done,” presidential candidate Garcia said.

He describes his vice-presidential candidate Michael Banks as a “doer,” and highlights that they have the same vision for the STH community. Despite their slight gap in the polls, Garcia is confident they can win.

“I have great relationships with everyone around the school and I know I am the man that is going to make the changes that the people want to see,” Garcia said.

Junior George Fisher is running for office along with junior Everett Vaughn. Both are prevalent players on the basketball team. (Eagle Photo/Henry Adair)
Junior George Fisher is running for office along with junior Everett Vaughn. Both are prevalent players on the basketball team. (Eagle Photo/Henry Adair)

Fisher and Vaughn made a more emotional appeal to voters. Their main platform is the vague promise to bring STH “Back to the Glory Days.” This ticket has a loyal fan base, made visible by the strong presence of their signature construction hats in the crowd during the town hall.

“I remember going to games when I was younger, and there were so many people there. We want to bring more people to events. The way we do that is to add incentives. We want more pep rallies, awards for coming, and raised awareness,” vice presidential candidate Everett Vaughn said.

However, their hats did not seem to translate to results. Fisher and Vaughn are last in the polls, about six percentage points behind Kotlarek.

Their message centers on bringing St. Thomas back to past eras rather than changing to something new, a message that resonates with their friend group but perhaps not the student body as a whole.

It is worth noting that while this poll can give a general idea of the opinion of the student body as a whole, it cannot accurately predict a winner due to the discrepancy in the junior vote value.

Because the poll is entirely anonymous, there is no way of telling which grades are voting for which candidates. This is important because junior votes count for 1.5, while freshman and sophomore votes count for only 1.

So, for example, even though Fisher and Vaughn are polling last, they could still win if they can bring out more of the junior vote even if they lack support from underclassmen.

Another factor that could affect voters’ opinions is the relative involvement and contributions of the candidates in Student Council so far.

Official Student Council records of committees and attendance show a stark divide in the contributions of each candidate.

Daniel Garcia has an attendance rate of 83% and has served on the Walk-a-thon committee, the Strake Week Committee, and the Casino Night Committee. He served as a dealer at casino night, and was instrumental in ensuring the success of multiple Fall Olympics events.

Noah Kotlarek also has an 83% attendance and has served on the Casino Night committee and was a Fall Olympics volunteer in his two years as a representative.

George Fisher has served on the committee to plan trips to Astros and Rockets games, and has a 66% attendance rate.

As of Thursday, no definitive judgment can be made on who has the best chance of winning. The election will take place on Monday in the cafeteria during both lunches. Students must have their student ID to vote.

Ryan is the Student Body President of St. Thomas High School. Outside of Student Council, he is a state-champion speaker on the Speech and Debate team, an anchor for the Eagle Broadcast Network, and a well-below-average basketball player.