For the second consecutive year the race for Student Association President came down to a runoff between two candidates.The cheering sections for candidates John Bennett and Ashwin Narla enthusiastically chanted their candidates' name back-and-forth at each other across Funger Hall lecture room 103 minutes before the results were announced.
After 45 minutes of waiting, Joint Elections Committee Chair Phil Gardner announced the results. Ashwin Narla will be the next and 37th Student Association President at The George Washington University.
Narla won the race 53 percent to SA Finance Chair Bennett's 47 percent in a runoff election that broke a University record for voter participation with 4,385 students voting. The election took place online between Wednesday at 9 a.m. to Thursday at 9 p.m.
Narla appeared stunned and a little emotional as supporters rallied around him, hugged him, and chanted his name as soon as the results were announced.
"I'm just really overwhelmed. It feels great," Narla told WRGW. "I had great grassroots support. If I didn't have friends I wouldn't be here," he said.
John Bennett appeared disappointed but gracious in the aftermath of the results. Narla and him walked towards each other following the announcement and met at the center of the room shaking hands and trading a few words before returning to their supporters. Bennet told WRGW in a live interview following the results how much he appreciated all of his supporters.
"I just feel lousy that I wasn't able to follow-through for them," Bennett commented. "I kind of feel guilty I don't have something a little more concrete to share with them," he said.
Narla will be succeeding junior John Richardson as SA President. Richardson was elected to be a governor on the Marvin Center Governing Board in last week's regularly scheduled elections. Narla will also be the third consecutive SA President from the Sigma Chi Fraternity. He follows in the footsteps of Jason Lifton last year and Richardson this year.
Narla won a race that originally had five candidates. In last weeks regularly scheduled race, Narla received 34% of the vote compared to Bennett's 36%. However, in order to avoid the runoff one of the candidates needed to receive at least 40% of the vote.
Narla will immediately begin meeting with administrators in the days and weeks ahead along with Executive Vice President-Elect Abby Bergren who won last week. They said they're ready to get started on student issues ranging from student space to campus safety.
"I'm not going to be resting too much because there is still a lot of work to be done," Narla said.