Student vote underwhelms in 1st Ward election

Weinberg freshman Karna Nangia encourages students to vote for 1st Ward challenger Ed Tivador. Students campaigned for Tivador outside the Arch during the voting period.

Melody Song/Daily Senior Staffer

Weinberg freshman Karna Nangia encourages students to vote for 1st Ward challenger Ed Tivador. Students campaigned for Tivador outside the Arch during the voting period.

Junnie Kwon, Assistant Campus Editor

Northwestern students hardly turned out in Tuesday’s election for 1st Ward alderman, handing incumbent Judy Fiske victory over challenger Ed Tivador.

There were two on-campus voting locations: Parkes Hall, which recorded 81 voters, and Patten Gymnasium, which had six. Overall, 1,097 people voted in the 1st Ward race.

Student volunteers for Associated Student Government’s Vote Evanston initiative stood outside The Arch for six hours, handing out free pizza and encouraging students to vote in Tuesday’s elections.

Chris Harlow, who spearheaded Vote Evanston with Weinberg freshman Kevin Harris, said student involvement in local politics was crucial in gaining ground for the representation of student interest in policies such as the so-called “brothel law” and off-campus safety procedures.

“If Northwestern students make up a portion of the populous that votes the alderman into office, the alderman will feel more accountable to the students,” the SESP freshman said.

Steven Monacelli, NU student coordinator for Tivador, said he and other students supporting Tivador stood outside of The Arch for nine hours, encouraging students to vote for Tivador.

“It wasn’t what we hoped,” said Monacelli, a Communication senior, of the election’s result. “We need someone who not only says they’re willing to listen to students but also willing to reach out to them …  I don’t think (Fiske) came on campus once during this entire campaign.”

Harlow said the biggest inhibitor that prevented students from voting was registration. He said most of the students he spoke to expressed regret for not registering early enough. Although he had hoped for more student voters, he said the initiative was largely successful because it raised awareness about local politics on campus.

“There was a great excitement centered around community politics,” he said. “We’re in the middle of ASG elections, but people still knew there were Evanston elections going on.”

Communication senior David Griffin said he voted for Tivador because the candidate was more aware of student interests, particularly regarding Tivador’s stance to work toward repealing the so-called “brothel law.” He said student awareness about the elections on campus was surprising.

“I’m really impressed by it, since local elections are usually not well participated in,” he said. “Certainly there’s been a lot more getting the word about this round than I’ve seen before.”

However, Medill freshman Mallory Busch said student engagement in the elections was still lacking. She was going to vote for Tivador but was told she had registered incorrectly.

“I’m really passionate about elections, but most of the people I know don’t even know about the elections,” she said.

Weinberg junior Janesh Rahlan also voted for Tivador because of his inclusion of NU students. A follower of local politics, Rahlan said Evanston politicians needs to start viewing students as part of their community.

Moving forward, Harlow said he plans to change the Vote Evanston initiative to hold a similar booth offering free pizza at the time of voter registration instead of Election Day.