SA elects senate speaker

By Matt James

Student Association Sen. Joe Annunzio was elected senate speaker by a majority vote of the senate Sunday night.

Annunzio, serving his second term on the senate, beat out senators Regina Hudson and Michael Stumpf for the position, which was held by Tom Zur last year.

According to the SA constitution, Annunzio will act as the chief spokesperson for the senate and will “advise and assist the senate in the planning and development of programs that further the goals of the SA.”

Annunzio will be required to sit on the President’s Fee Study Committee and will be an ex-officio member of the Student Committee on Political Action.

But SA Vice President Gregg Bliss said Annunzio’s “ultimate power” will be drawn from the effectiveness of the senate. “The more effective the senate is, the more bang for the buck the speaker has,” he said.

The abundance of “diverse and dynamic views” within the senate will add to Annunzio’s responsibility in providing that the senate’s efforts are coordinated and effective, Bliss said.

Annunzio said, based on his experience on the senate, he could “see that, from years past, a lot of time was wasted because senators weren’t informed on the issues.”

As a result, Annunzio said he would implement a liaison program within the senate to alleviate the problem. With the liaison program, senators would attend organizational meetings to gain “one-on-one verbal contact” with the organization. The SA funds about 35 organizations at NIU.

“The program would help me, and it would help the senators,” Annunzio said.

A breakdown of the number of votes per candidate Sunday night was not available because the voting was by secret ballot.

Hudson and Stumpf both agreed that Annunzio would be an effective speaker. But Hudson said, “Many senators may not feel comfortable coming out and speaking when so many senators are so domineering … I implore Joe to be humble and not be in the position to intimidate senators.”