Current St. Aidan’s College JCR President Joe McGarry has been elected President of Durham Students’ Union after a heated election campaign.
Turnout in the election stood at 16.6% of all eligible students, up from 13.9% last year. In 2020, 19.2% of students voted, including 58% for Re-Open Nominations (RON) as first preference, though this option was later disqualified and all votes deleted.
Right-wing commentator Sophie Corcoran, who appeared on GB News and TalkRadio to promote her campaign, received nearly 10% of first preference votes this year but was knocked out early on in the vote transferral system.
All students at St. Chad’s College, who had the highest turnout of any college, at 36.1%, were awarded with a free drink at the DSU bar.
Aditya Lathar took second place in the election, with Dan Lonsdale coming third, current Postgraduate Academic Officer Declan Merrington placing fourth, Sophie Corcoran fifth, and RON sixth.
The races for Welfare & Liberation Officer, Postgraduate Academic Officer and Undergraduate Academic Officer were all uncontested, with Laura Curran, Cynthia Lawson and Joshua Freestone consecutively elected for those positions.
Around one in five voters opted to vote for RON in the uncontested elections.
The only non-Presidential contested election was for Opportunities Officer, where Jack Ballingham secured a second term with 57% of the vote, against Blake Liu’s 30%, and 12% voting for RON.
Using a Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, the vote-counting for DSU President went through five rounds, with one candidate eliminated after each round.
First to be eliminated was Re-Open Nominations (RON) with under 6% of first preference votes. Sophie Corcoran followed, then Declan Merrington with 14% on first preference, Dan Lonsdale with 16%, and Aditya Lathar with 29%.
This left Joe McGarry, who despite coming second in the first, second and third elimination stages, scored just enough votes from other preferences to candidate to victory.
Despite being the only Presidential candidate to have prior experience as an SU Officer, Declan Merrington was eliminated in the third round of elections.
In his acceptance speech, McGarry thanked those who had participated in the student elections, saying, “Thanks to everybody who voted for me in the election and thanks to everyone who voted and made your voice heard.”
Image: Tiffany Chan