SGA Senate rejects Verlinsky as election commissioner

SGA Senate The Student Government Association Senate unanimously approved its first senator for the semester at Sunday’s meeting.

Courtesy of NIU Student Government Association

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By Kierra Frazier

DeKALB  – The Student Government Association Senate rejected the appointment of Senator Michael Verlinsky as election commissioner for the SGA spring elections at Sunday’s meeting. 

The vote to confirm Verlinsky failed with five in favor, six against and six abstentions. Reactions were split among senators as some felt as though Velinsky lacked in communication skills and his ability to collaborate with others. 

The election commissioner administers all SGA elections and referenda and is responsible for hiring, supervising and processing payment for all poll workers, according to the SGA bylaws.

Verlinsky ran for the position because he said there’s a large disconnect between portions of the student body, and he wanted to make the campus as inclusive as possible. 

“As an election commissioner, that would be something I would be aiming to do by trying to unify the campus and get everyone voting and rooting for their favorite candidate that would be doing the best job for the school,” Verlinsky said. 

Chairperson Samantha Gurrola said she was unsure if Verlinsky could successfully fill the role as he missed two meetings for the public affairs committee and was hard to communicate with over email. 

“I challenge you guys to really think about what exactly this position means for students and what exactly we’re voting for,” Gurrola said. “I like Senator Velinsky, I think he’s a nice person, he’s very friendly, but when it comes to working with him in a team, I have had some difficulties with communication.” 

Verlinsky said that communication would be very important for the role because of the large number of candidates who will need individual communication, as well as members that are not even part of the election. 

Because the Senate is in recess until January, Speaker of the Senate Brad Beyer said with no election commissioner over the break, it’ll be harder to prepare for the spring elections. 

“I think it was hard to kind of find a candidate,” Beyer said. “I don’t know all too many people who expressed interest in the job, but I mean, if we didn’t confirm the candidate today, then I would ask the president to very aggressively go after finding the right candidate for us to confirm.” 

Verlinsky was nominated for the position by SGA President Antonio Johnson.

Dallas Douglass, deputy speaker of the Senate, said it’s important to consider a candidate’s work ethic because the election commissioner is the most important position that the SGA has because the election structures the entire organization. 

“I think it’s important to note that our decision on this matter is not necessarily reflective of Senator Verlinsky’s character,” Douglass said. “I understand it’s important to be patient and compassionate with each other during COVID, there are unforeseen circumstances at every turn.” 

Senator Jeremy Pope said he was in favor of voting Verlinsky as election commissioner based on his efforts to recruit more students into the Senate. 

“He showed passion in his speech and he definitely seems committed to creating a diverse team,” Pope said. 

Other business

The Senate also confirmed two more Senators at the last meeting of the semester. 

Nathan Kemnetz, first-year marketing major, and Tim Moore, first-year meteorology major, were both confirmed as Senators. 

Kemnetz ran because he thought it would be a good opportunity to improve his leadership skills. 

As a Senator, Moore said he wants to improve the recycling options on campus, especially seeing the trash that piles up in the residence hall parking lots. 

“As soon as students, in turn, will want to become more involved in the process of cleaning our campus, and maybe even want to run for this position in order to strengthen the policies that would be set, will eventually motivate the whole community,” Moore said.