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October 3, 2008 | by  | in Online Only |
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Thomas to lodge formal complaint

Despite the announcement of the results earlier this week, the furore and brouhaha that probably characterised this year’s VUWSA general elections looks set to continue, with Sonny Thomas announcing his intentions to lodge a formal complaint with Returning Officer Roy Siemens to investigate “concerns” that have allegedly been raised over the amount of money spent by President-elect Jasmine Freemantle during the campaign period.

In an ambigious press release distributed this morning, in which he also announced his concession, Thomas pointed out that the vote count against Freemantle (i.e. the number of votes that Thomas and the other two presidential hopefuls, William Wu and Sean Connors, received altogether) was equivalent to 66 per cent of the total votes cast, and added: “It’s disappointing to see archaic electoral systems such as first past the post ignore the wishes of two thirds of the student body.”

It is unclear what action Siemens will take regarding the matter. As far as Salient is aware, he has yet to act upon numerous complaints made to him previously about the failure of several candidates in removing their campaign material during the voting period, which is a violation of Section 54 in the VUWSA Constitution.

The full text of Thomas’ press release is below:


MEDIA RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

VUWSA Presidential Candidate Sonny Thomas Concedes prima face defeat, vows to contest

Yesterday the VUWSA election results were announced and Presidential candidate Sonny Thomas narrowly lost to his Workers Party opponent Jasmine Freemantle gaining 762 votes to Freemantle’s 895.

The close result, with only a 5% margin of votes between the two front runners, reflected an intense, and at times nasty election campaign that saw voter turnout reach over 2600, for the second time in two years.

Sonny Thomas said

“I’m disappointed to have been beaten so narrowly, it shows that students really were divided on the issues, the majority of students did not have the confidence in Jasmine Freemantle to be president of their association.”

The other two Presidential Candidates, William Wu, and Sean Connors both polled 658, and 342 votes respectfully, making the total count against Freemantle 1762 votes, or 66 percent of the electorate.

“It’s disappointing to see archaic electoral systems such as first past the post ignore the wishes of two thirds of the student body” Thomas said.

Freemantle, in a media release today, attributed her win to the reaction of students against “Rogernomic-style reforms to VUWSA” included in the VUWSA Change Proposal, a document she claims was solely authored by Thomas.

“It’s saddening to see these partisan attacks and misrepresentations continue after the election” Thomas replied.

“I have consistently said throughout the election that this document was co-written with current VUWSA President and Workers Party member Joel Cosgrove, as well as being consulted upon by former VUWSA President and Workers Party member Nick Kelly. It was a cross party effort that looked to ensuring a sustainable and bright future for VUWSA.” He added

Thomas also voiced concerns with the ungracious nature that Freemantle had presented after winning the vote.

“She has put in her press release that the Change Proposal would turn Salient into a business unit, this is simply untrue. I see no need why she would have to continue to lie and scaremonger students even after winning the election. It smacks of reactionary leadership.”

Thomas has also indicated that several students have raised concerns over the amount of leafleting and postering that Freemantle undertook during the election campaign. He has indicated that he will be lodging a formal complaint with Roy Siemens, the VUWSA elections returning officer, to investigate if Freemantle has overspent her constitutionally allocated limit of $100 dollars.

“Until it is known for sure that this election was fought and won fairly, and no rules were broken by the President Elect, I will not concede defeat.” He added.

ENDS

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Comments (27)

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  1. ? says:

    wow press releases from failed vuwsa candidates. who’d thunk it. is it really that important guys? seriously? is it? naaaaaaah its not aye! yeah i thought so. instead of saying ‘thomas said’ why doesnt he just write “i said, to myself, as i sit at my desk alone, typing this press release no one will read…”

    “The close result, with only a 5% margin”
    5% out of 10% of students is pretty close. its all of like 2 people. innit?

    “It’s disappointing to see archaic electoral systems such as first past the post ignore the wishes of two thirds of the student body.
    one wonders what he would have said had he won.

    “the majority of students did not have the confidence in Jasmine Freemantle”
    Oh would you quit your whinging. obviously the majority of students DONT CARE!

    Thomas also voiced concerns with the ungracious nature that Freemantle had presented after winning the vote.
    students were concerned with the ungracious nature that thomas had presented before losing the vote.

    “It’s saddening to see these partisan attacks and misrepresentations continue after the election”
    so what exactly is this press release?

    “Until it is known for sure that this election was fought and won fairly, and no rules were broken by the President Elect, I will not concede defeat.
    bigger loser than i thought. what a fucking joke.

  2. Tadpole says:

    Fuck Mr Thomas you’re an idiot. This is the reason the majority of NZ’s look at VUWSA and laugh. A $2mil budget, apparently managed “by the students, FOR the students!” When in reality, it’s a $2mil budget being pissed away by a bunch of wanna-be children politicians!!

    “It was a cross party effort that looked to ensuring a sustainable and bright future for VUWSA…”

    WTF? When will you realise, Mr Thomas, that the role of VUWSA (and EVERY student representative association in NZ) is, amongst many things, to;

    a) support students in any way you can throughout their tenure at that tertiary institution;
    b) be a voice for students on campus;
    c) provide welfare and support for those in need!

    When will you fucking grow up and stop acting like you’re trying to bail out the US economy, and realise that VUWSA is NOT a platform for you, and your wet-dream political allies to throw your ‘pretend’ (and remember that’s all it is) political power around.

    VUWSA is an organisation that needs proper leadership. It NEEDS a professional organisational structure that will grow and be accountable and meet results. This CANNOT be managed and led by a 12-year-old president who spends his nights wanking off to the thought of sitting in that corner office and aspiring to be in the BeeHive one day.

    Lay your “Change Proposal” aside. Go get a job at KFC. You make me angry with how incredibly naive you are and yet how self-important you and your mate Cosgrove feel.

    Until the VUWSA Exec realise that they need a professional, forward thinking and sustainable professional structure in place, then and ONLY then will the Institution and everyone else in NZ EVER take you seriously.

  3. John A. Lee says:

    Did you read the change proposal, Tadpole? The issues you’ve raised were all addressed by it. Freemantle is presumably going to scrap it and any chances of VUWSA adopting a “sustainable professional structure” with it.

  4. ? says:

    The issues you’ve raised were all addressed by it.
    no they werent. the chanr prop just tinkered with some part of vuwsa that lost a bit of money as opposed to changing the reason why vuwsa looses money: people who don’t know what the fuck theyre doing eg the vuwsa president, the vuwsa vps and the other fools who run in this third rate popularity contest.

    freemantle would be right to scrap it and present a change prop that is worth putting into place. rather then a half assed atempt sonny put together. hopefully she actually do something though or i want my vote of sean connorz back.

  5. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Is there any reason to beleive that Jasmine went over her allocated spending amount? I’ll admit that I had voiced this concern myself during the campaign when I heard rumours about it, but I took the fact that she openly responded on the forums stating that she had remained within the spending limit as both direct and honest.

    How is campaign spending monitored anyway? Does the Returning Officer keep tabs on the candidates during their campaigns, or is a check performed only when someone raises a complaint? I would assume that it is the former. Is there any way for students to have access to these figures? I feel that as fee-paying students we have a right to see these figures, and printing them in Salient would certainly dispel (or confirm) the concerns of any candidates.

    I do agree with Sonny’s point that Jasmine’s criticisms of the Change Proposal were misinformed and misrepresentative. I criticised her openly for this as I felt she was capitalising on student fears in her campaign – an open debate on the finer points of the proposal would have been far more productive. It is a shame that a percentage of her electoral support was based upon this misrepresentation. But, in the end, the students have spoken, and I wish Jasmine all the best. Despite the flaws in her campaign, no one can doubt that she has student interests at heart first and foremost.

    Tadpole: John A. Lee has summed it up succinctly – everything that you ranted about in your post was, in fact, addressed by the Change Proposal. Specifically, your three main points:

    a) support students in any way you can throughout their tenure at that tertiary institution;
    b) be a voice for students on campus;
    c) provide welfare and support for those in need!

    were in fact the main motivation behind the drafting of the document – to allow for student funds to be more efficiently directed into VUWSA’s core functions of STUDENT SUPPORT and STUDENT ADVOCACY.

    Matt.

  6. Shitkicker McGee says:

    Wow. This is pretty fucking sad.

    The Returning Officer will have a hard time adding up all the costs Jasmine would have racked up had she not had free rein of the VUWSA printer with the help of Cosgrove.

    Which brings me to my next point: Who wants to bet the Workers Party posters around town were printed for free on the VUWSA printer? Well, not free of course. Students are paying for it.

  7. Tadpole says:

    @ Matthew and John. Yes I’ve read the change proposal. And I guess, in my view, it’s an amateur attempt to fix VUWSA’s financial issues.

    And apologies, I did not mean to leave out Freemantle in my ‘rant’. My issues with VUWSA as a whole is how it’s structured. There are so many other student associations in this country managing student’s money and delivering services in a professional and effective manner. They’re not running at a loss. They are respected by the institution they work within. And the role of the exec and in particular the President, is purely to gain experience and provide a visible voice for students – not have hands on managing roles of budgets and staff.

    Sonny’s ‘Change Proposal’, in my mind, is a weak attempt to fix these issues. However, this is just my opinion and I’m big enough to be disagreed with. :)

    It’s obviously what you guys are advocating and in the end, if you think that’s the best way ahead for VUWSA (and as seen by ANYONE in leadership there), then VUWSA is in a sadder position than I thought.

  8. Mathmatix says:

    Thing that amuses me is that Mr Thomas forgets to mention that over 50% of people didn’t vote for him either…

    It is unlikely anything will come out of this as it would be REALLY hard to spend more than a $100 on printing when it is relatively cheap if you are economical (i.e. double sided printing of 4 fliers onto 1 sheet of A4 paper and recycling any left over fliers from the end of the day – there were lots floating around the library and lecture theaters).

    “The Returning Officer will have a hard time adding up all the costs Jasmine would have racked up had she not had free rein of the VUWSA printer with the help of Cosgrove.

    Which brings me to my next point: Who wants to bet the Workers Party posters around town were printed for free on the VUWSA printer? Well, not free of course. Students are paying for it.”

    Shitkicker McGee where is your evidence for that? Are you going to report them to the Electoral Commission?

  9. Shitkicker McGee says:

    No, they’re not a registered party. But it is highly probably that Cosgrove has allowed the Workers Party to use the photocopier and printer to their whim and fancy – last year he spent thousands of dollars on printing. I’d like VUWSA to reveal how much he’s spent this year.

  10. Jackson Wood says:

    “printing them in Salient would certainly dispel”
    Oh no. No way buddy. Salient does not have a photocopier and only one printer. Not to mention the disturbance caused to the delicate psyches of the Salient team if VUWSA wannabes were to be traipsing in. Na uh. Thats a bloody OSH hazard right there.

    “It is a shame that a percentage of her electoral support was based upon this misrepresentation.”
    We don’t know how much of her electoral support was based on misrepresentation. We also don’t know how much of her support was based on her strengths. There is simply no way of divining how much support she got because of her misrepresentation unless you call each of the 895 people who voted for her and asked them why and then all the rest of the people and asked them why they didn’t.

    Are you going to report them to the Electoral Commission?
    They’re not a registered party so the EC can’t do much… but in the name of transparency it would be nice for WP to dispel such rumours.

  11. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Jackson:

    By ‘printing them in Salient’ I meant reproducing the budget totals for each campaigner for 2009 in Salient, so everybody could see exactly how much each candidate spent this year. I’ve emailed Roy Siemens for these figures. I didn’t mean allowing the candidates to print all of their campaign material on your equipment. Although in saying that, the verbal slap-downs that would ensue between candidates fighting over sparse equipment in the Salient office would provide some pretty good material for articles :)

    I deliberately used the unspecific phrase ‘a percentage of her electoral support’ because of the issue you mentioned. You are right that there is no way to confirm exactly what percentage this is without far more effort than my laziness would permit. But by looking at the material from Jasmine’s campaign – her posters, her speech at the forum, her comments on the Salient website – it is clear that this was a significant component of her platform. It also influenced the student perception of the campaign and what Jasmine’s platform was all about. Example: the portion of discussion on the Salient website regarding the Change Proposal was secondary to the arguments over dirty campaign tactics and political affiliations, but it was still significant enough to make it a viable factor in the outcome of what was, in the end, a very close finish between the two front runners.

    Tadpole:

    You raise a good point in your second post. Jackson recently wrote an article on how the focus of student politics at VUW seems to have moved away from the students themselves, and I think this fits with what you are arguing. Student politics should be about representing students, not personal glorification and the furthering of one’s own political career. In saying that, however, I feel that Sonn’y proposal was a small step in that direction. Small steps, small steps…

    Matt.

  12. Jasmine Freemantle says:

    Although I have already pointed out that my election expenses are totally within budget, I will say it again: My election expenses full within the $100 limit allowed under the VUWSA constitution (for the record, they amount to $97.90).

    My election expenses (recorded on an excel spreadsheet and accompanied by receipts) were submitted to the VUWSA returning officer by the due date, and were accepted.

    One aspect of my campaign concerned transparency and accountability – two things that I think VUWSA needs more of.

    I am 100% happy to have my election expenses published in Salient or any other forum.

    I have nothing to hide, and just want to get on with the job I’ve been elected to.

  13. Electrum Stardust says:

    And just how many people were taken in by the mere promise of change, but later regretted, with good reasons – just like Cosgrove? Further, is there anything to stop the new Exec from considering and implementing positive changes that everybody agrees are needed, but now with more real and adequate “consultation”, with those people who will be affected, and with the student body in general?

    Surely it is up to each and every candidate in EVERY ELECTION to interpret and counter each other’s proposed policies and their likely implications, and to defend her or his own from similar challenge (just as Palin and Biden are doing right now)? Surely it is up to the voters to judge and decide for themselves (through the very act of voting), based on what the candidates have presented, how successful (or unsuccessful) each candidate has been in managing this most basic part of campaigning?

  14. dave says:

    It’s disappointing to see archaic electoral systems such as first past the post ignore the wishes of two thirds of the student body” Thomas said.

    Thomas is clearly a dick. Even if he increased his vote by 50%, more students would have voted against him than for him. Would he then say that as most of the students who voted voted against him, the wishes of more than half of the student body are ignored?

  15. Lenin says:

    Jasmine – have you included attributable costs, such as the leaflets that Nick Kelly was handing out on the day before the election that condemned Sonny and supported you?

  16. Shitkicker McGee says:

    If only your printing was free, like Cosgrove promised students at the start of the year…

  17. Tadpole says:

    @ Matthew. “Student politics should be about representing students, not personal glorification and the furthering of one’s own political career”

    Couldn’t agree with you more. Well put.

  18. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Tadpole: I can’t claim the fame for that – Jackson argued it far more eloquently the other day. See http://www.salient.org.nz/blog/fear-and-loathing-on-the-campaign-trail-vuwsa-elections-%e2%80%9809

  19. Michael Oliver says:

    The fact that this conversation is being carried out on the Salient blog seems indicative of just how absolutely ridiculous and absurd this campaign, this student association and ungracious assholes who dabble in both have been.

    There’s not an ounce of civility, nor a smidgen of the class and tact expected not only of someone who has designs on being the, ya’know, president of a student association that speaks for over 20,000 people, but of anyone who lives and breathes anywhere outside of a fucking sewer.

    This past year, this campaign just gone, and now this – this absolutely mindnumbing and petty exposition of ridiculous self-entitlement – is an absolute PR disaster for VUWSA, and stands to reason why nobody but a measly sample of Victoria students gave enough of a damn to vote about it.

    Nobody takes this association seriously, and with good reason. How dare you greedily stand up and tell us you’re fit to represent us, to speak for us and to advocate on behalf of us when you’re staggeringly incapable of carrying yourselves in a manner befitting adults.

    You’ve all been pathetic, each and everyone of you.

  20. Chris de Lisle says:

    Yawn. So is Thomas out of the exec now, or just not president?

    I can understand why he’s making a fuss, and I can understand why our exec spends all their time being argumentative. He and all of them have sunk a not inconsiderable amount of effort into something almost completely meaningless…
    As I see it, there never was anything real for this election to be about, aside from mudslinging.
    Everything important that the exec does happens anyway- regardless of whether things are changed or not. Salient is published, Clubs operate. Bread is handed out. Lost property is found. Mount Street Bar exists.
    I suspect they by and large operate not because of but despite of anything the exec might do or change.

    So… yeah. I’m apathetic about the whole thing.

  21. blogette says:

    Michael Oliver speaks sense for the first time in a long time.

  22. Jackson Wood says:

    I have just been informed that about 1/2 an hour before I posted the above comment, the Workers’ Party were officially registered at the Electoral Commission. Wowza. Which means they had best front up with receipts!

  23. Mr Magoo says:

    And better chuck some authorisation on those posters I say I say

  24. diddums says:

    sonny thomas is an absolute moron, well done to all teh students that voted against him, he would have done a shit load of damage to your reputation had he got in…..

    it goes to show that he is a poor loser as well that he just cant accept the defeat, 1 more reason he should not be president

  25. Rabid Pragmatic Centrist says:

    Sonny is funny. My God that rhymes.

  26. Starbuck says:

    Sonny said his challengers were a joke.

    He is just lucky he did not get any serious opponents then.

    NO PRESIDENCY FOR YOU SONNY!

  27. Workers says:

    go for it sonny

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