Candidate defeats Rohail Kazi by 69 votes to become SG president
Joe Wright was elected as USC’s next student body president around 6:30 Wednesday night, and for 20 minutes or so, he hugged friends, frantically accepted congratulatory calls and emotionally composed his thoughts.
And then, for at least an hour, it was time for more work.
“I’ve got to go to the University Ambassadors for the weekly 7:30 meeting,” Wright said. “I’m president of it, and now I’m president of the University of South Carolina.”
It was a triumphant evening for Wright, a student rejected twice for leadership positions in the organization he will now lead.
“It makes it a little sweeter,” Wright said. “One person, (former Student Body President) Meredith Ross believed in me, and then (Student Body Vice President) Taylor Cain believed in me, and then (former Student Body Vice President) Alex Stroman believed in me. And now I’m here, and I want to be that person for someone else.”
Wright won over Rohail Kazi by just 69 votes. He captured 1,328 votes, or 51 percent, to Kazi’s 1,259 votes, or 49 percent.
“It tells you that every vote matters,” said Student Body Vice President Taylor Cain. “I saw that when I lost to Alex Stroman by 12 votes two years ago.”
It ended a campaign devoid of scandal. The candidates, both attractive with quick smiles and hearty laughs, were well-connected across campus. They were current members of Student Government and well-received by most organizations. And the campaign was overwhelmingly positive, with few negative remarks and zero election violations.
But others in SG weren’t quite as nice. Different members of the organization used Twitter and other social media sites for snarky remarks throughout the election.
Wright will face an organization — and a student body — that seemed evenly split between Kazi and Wright. Wright will also lead a student body that, by and large, didn’t vote. Less than 10 percent signed on VIP and cast a ballot in the runoff, more than 500 fewer than in last week’s general election.
Wright said his first goal was getting the organization’s internal affairs in order.
“I’m ready to serve, ready to lead USC in the right director,” Wright said. “You can expect to see fresh ideas and a very unique leadership style.”
Student Body President Ebbie Yazdani, who supported Kazi, said he wished Wright the best and would support him in way possible.
“But you can’t do rhetoric anymore once you’re in office,” Yazdani said. “You’ve got to ignite Carolina like you promised. It’s fun out there campaigning for a while, but then you’ve got to get results.”
After the loss, Kazi stood around his supporters and thanked them for their hard work.
“I learned how to reach out to people, how to go to organizations and talk to them,” Kazi said. “You’ll see me next year. You don’t have to be president to serve in SG.”