Behind the scenes of Blair’s Class Council and SGA election campaign strategies

Sept. 20, 2023, 7:40 a.m. | By Mooti Chimdi | 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Exploring the process candidates take to get elected as SGA and Class Council officer

SGA class members participate in group discussions. Photo courtesy of Sadie Blain.

When students hear of SGA or Class council elections, besides the assumption that they both perform the same tasks, most students think back to the Instagram post or TikTok promo of the candidate they voted for. However, what goes into the process of getting the campaigns up and running typically goes unheard of or doesn’t get shared.

During the past elections, many new faces entered the student advocacy space and ran many successful campaigns. Whether it was the narrow SGA election or the competitive Senior Class Council election, each candidate had a common interest in creating progress for the student body. Here were some of the candidates that shared their experiences and strategies with the campaign.

Ach'sah Gubena (SGA Vice President) - 12th grade

The SGA Vice President election had three candidates applying for the position – tied for the most of all elections this year. This however did not stop Ach'sah Gubena from using advertising strategies such as hanging up promotional posters in hallways, posting on social media (specifically Instagram) and incorporating a video on the election form. "I used social media to post my goals, plans and ideas. I also advertised that graphic around and had friends repost it… I also printed out flyers and posted them out in the school, and handed out tiny flyers which I handed out to people," says Gubena.

Along with a good advertising campaign, every candidate needs some experience and credibility for the position they are running for. Gubena demonstrated this through her experience as being an SGA Executive overseeing her class committee.

As in recent years, Gubena believes that using social media in Class Council and SGA elections has caused controversy, as it leads to an inequity in advertisement between those who have it and those who don’t. "It definitely can be a disadvantage.. depending on your following, the amount of followers you have can dictate who you reach and how," says Gubena. As for SGA sponsor Kevin Shindel, social media advertising is not an issue with campaigns as long as students don’t have organizational support. “The only thing with social media is those organizational endorsements, right , so if you play soccer you can’t have your soccer team Instagram’s say ‘hey everybody vote for this person’,” says Shindel.

Liya Mehari (Junior Class President) – 11th grade

Of all the candidates from the Junior Class Council election campaign, the most unique campaign came from Liya Mehari running for Junior Class President and her twin brother Aser Mehari running for Junior Class Vice President. They both used trendy advertising techniques through their posters and social media posts. One of their posters parodied Drake's album If you're reading this it's too late, but the twins decided to twist it to If you're reading this it's not too late to vote Liya and Aser. Additionally, Liya created a TikTok in which different people wore sunglasses with the words Vote for Liya and Aser.

Going into the election, Liya had tough competition given that she was going against Bezawit Gessesse. However, she continued to place trust in the campaign that she and her brother had developed. "Everybody running was nervous but I had faith in myself and my running VP as well. So I didn't worry too much but did the best I could advocating for myself to get the position," she says. 

With a sideways campaign and five people competing in total, the election was a success for the Meharis with Liya and Aser Mehari, who won President and Vice President of the Junior Class.

Annika Balaji (Sophomore Vice President) – 10th grade

Just as the upperclassmen used social media, so did sophomore Annika Balaji. Annika Balaji's campaign was the type that would immediately catch the average voter's attention through her use of social media advertising and partnering with Abigail Mizan for Sophomore Class Council President. Her main strategy when advertising her campaign revolved around an Instagram post that included her plans, and experience in national circuit debate. Similarly to the other candidates, Balaji also put up posters around the school detailing the plans of her campaign. 

In addition to the advertising strategies Balaji used, with this position it is one of her priorities to be able to advocate for class-wide issues and believes that somebody has to be willing to take action on pressing matters. Along with having students' voices heard, Balaji seeks to incorporate fundraisers for certain extracurriculars and clubs, in turn making them more accessible for all students. “I want to make sure that every students’ opinion and voice is heard.. and doing a lot of fundraising for extracurriculars and making them more accessible,” says Balaji. 

When entering a campaign, many candidates prioritize formality. However, with Balaji's campaign she got too caught up in the campaigning, almost not recognizing the high importance that Class Council was until finishing her campaign. "I guess I didn't take it seriously. I was hoping I was going to win, but I felt more responsibility later in the campaign than I did when I first started campaigning," Balaji says.

Robel Berhanu (Senior Class President) – 12th grade 

With the senior class prom, sunrise and other social gatherings hanging in balance, most Blair seniors turned to Robel Berhanu as their senior class president. With experience in Black Student Union (BSU) leadership and numerous other clubs, Berhanu wants to make sure that senior year will be memorable for the class of 2024.. "I want people to remember this senior year, I want people to actually think about what happened and especially make prom memorable," he says.

As most candidates wanted to participate in Class Council for the experience and to solve problems at Blair, Berhanu's main motivation similarly entailed developing his sense of responsibility to be better prepared for opportunities in college and beyond. "I want to learn how to develop a bigger sense of responsibility because I have bigger aspirations when it comes to what I want to do in college," Berhanu says. 

Additionally, the strategies that Berhanu used were done more intentionally than some of the other campaigns as he made sure he was using trendy posters and Instagram posts just a couple days before election day. This strategy was done to make sure that voters still remembered some of his advertising given that it was most recent. "I used a Kanye West album cover and Travis Scott letters for my poster. Also, I did all my campaigning right before voting started because I didn't want people to forget what I was doing," Berhanu says.

Winning Takes

With all the candidates that participated in the election, it's safe to say that running a campaign takes a lot of work, integrity and maturity. Some common successful things displayed amongst the winning candidates was that they all used social media and had some sort of in person advertising such as posters to bring their name out into the spotlight. However, regardless of the advertising, each candidate had a goal pushing them to succeed in their endeavor. Whether students seem to care or not care about the SGA and class elections it is important that students understand who they are voting for and what the process is like for a candidate. That being said, for the freshmen blazers, fully understanding that campaign process would be a great idea for those interested in running for freshmen class officer (President or Vice President). This election will occur around November of this school year.

Last updated: Oct. 4, 2023, 8:04 a.m.

Tags: SGA Class Council

Mooti Chimdi. Hi I'm Mooti (he/him). Besides writing for SCO, I like to eat and run. More »

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