Davis Latham was elected as speaker of the student senate on Wednesday. Latham defeated his opponent, Nick Hooks, in a runoff election with 54.55 percent of the vote.
Latham, despite polling lower than candidate Nick Hooks in the first round of elections, was able to make a comeback and win the position.
“I am excited to get things done. I know how the job is, so I know that it’s going to be tough, but I’m excited to get to work,” the second-year political science student said.
Latham has been involved in Student Government since his freshman year when he served on freshman council on the safety and transportation committee. He later became chief of staff for Patrick Ellis, the current speaker of the student senate. Latham considers Ellis a mentor to him in Student Government, and the two became very close after Latham successfully led Ellis' campaign for speaker last year. Latham’s experience in student senate along with Ellis’ support inspired him to decide to run for the position himself.
Latham said he views live-streaming quality in the student senate as a problem and is making it the first item on his agenda once in office.
“I think that it’s a really easy thing to hit the ground running,” Latham said. “I’ve been trying to make a document all year that I wanted to deliver to the next speaker to help them transition. It’s convenient that that document will now work for me.”
Several executive candidates ran together on tickets this year, with specific names for each -campaign team. Latham's campaign team ticket was called Forward, and while the presidential, vice-presidential and treasurer candidates on the ticket didn't win, 20 new senators were elected from the Forward ticket. Latham said he believes his familiarity with the new senators will make his transition into the position of speaker easier.
“I think a lot of the senators now are going to carry over to the next senate, and I know they have things that they’re ready to accomplish. I think that means that on day one we’re ready with legislation that we’ll have time for next term,” Latham said.
Latham said he wants to ensure that all legislation is open to the public and that his agenda is realistic and he believes that serving as Ellis’ chief of staff has prepared him for his new role.
“At this point in our term, I think we’ve got it down to a science. I hope to jump over that learning period and just start off from where we are.” Latham said.
Growing up a shy and opinionated child, running for an executive office role is something that was never at the top of his bucket list, Latham said. Ellis and Latham had multiple conversations about who they thought would be the best person to fill the position of speaker after Ellis’ term ended.
“We were talking about what was going to be going on next year and Ellis basically begged me to run,” Latham said. “I protested for about a week and said that I’d never run and he kept hassling me, and here we are.”
Going into the runoff as the underdog, based on votes, was something wasvery stressful for Latham, he said. Latham’s team redid all of their media and marketing to make him the sole face of it all after the other members of the Forward campaign lost their respective elections.
“We went from having everything from then it’s just me alone running as speaker. That night we made a new logo, my mom went and got me 1,000 stickers that next day,” Davis said. “I think that people are tired of seeing my face, understandably, but maybe they’ll see it a little bit later so we can talk and figure out their issues.”
Latham described his support system to be very diverse and that diversity is a way of thinking and incorporates different backgrounds.
“I felt like I had a really great group of people who really cared about me,” Latham said. “I’m really proud of our team.”
Several of the presidential campaign members endorsed Latham as well as the entire current executive team. The Student Government executive team consists of the president, vice president, treasurer and speaker of the student senate.
“I was really honored by Taylor Wright’s support. I didn’t know it was coming. I didn’t expect it,” Latham said.
Latham credits his success in part to his campaign manager Patrick Greene, a second-year biochemistry and molecular biology student. Greene and Latham have been friends since their first year at USC, having met at the beginning of freshman year when asked to revise the Preston Residence Hall government constitution.
“He felt an obligation to make sure that the student body was being served in the best and most capable way,” Greene said. “He knew that no one else could perform in the way that he could.”
Greene, Latham’s current roommate, decided to join the campaign and work as manager after Latham asked him to. Greene said he knew he wanted to get involved immediately, after seeing Latham’s passion to serve the student body from a first-hand perspective.
“He’s here when most people are sleeping or doing other stuff; he sacrifices a lot of himself all the time.” Greene said.
Despite knowing Latham’s qualifications to fill the role of speaker, Greene said he was a little nervous about the turnout of the election. He said he knew that the race would be competitive, but had faith that the voters would elect Latham.
“We overcame the biggest deficit in Student Government history.” Greene said. “I think that we, along with the other senators, will carry that same energy and passion and enact a lot of change that the student body deserves and needs.”
Greene said he has a lot of respect for Latham as both a friend and as a student leader on campus.
“He holds himself to such a high standard and is an incredible friend,” Greene said. “I’m elated for the future and excited to see the change that Davis will bring to campus, including all people in his decision-making process and making the university the best it can be.”