Democrats win positions in village election, student turnout remains low

Democratic nominee for Mayor of the Village of Geneseo Margaret Duff (pictured left) and Republican nominee for Mayor of the Village of Geneseo Richard Hatheway (pictured right) participated at a March 7 forum in Newton 214 with other candidates for village office. The elections on Tuesday March 20 led to victory for all four Democratic candidates and one  of the three Republican candidates. (Annalee Bainnson/Photo Editor)

The elections for various village officers provided victories to four Democrats and one Republican. Few students participated in the village election. 

The positions up for election included the Mayor of the Village of Geneseo, two Village Trustee positions, one Village Justice position with an unexpired term and one Village Justice position with a four-year term, according to the Village’s sample ballot. The ballot also included a yes or no referendum on whether a Games of Chance law would be allowed in the Village concerning legalizing games involving money, such as gambling. 

The Democratic candidates Margaret Duff, Thomas Bushnell, Leah Fletcher and Christopher Ivers each won in the Mayor of the Village, Village Justice with a four-year term and Village Trustee positions, respectively, and Kathleen Houston was elected Village Justice with an unexpired term, according to the results posted by Livingston CountyDuff defeated Republican Richard Hatheway, who held the position for 32 years previously, according to a Livingston County News article was published on Tuesday March 20. The Games of Chance referendum similarly passed. 

Associate Dean of Leadership and Service and Director of the Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development program Thomas Matthews was disappointed to see low turnout among students at the on-campus polling site located in Kuhl Gym. 

“I think that there weren’t any hot button issues,” Matthews said via a phone interview. “Students are like the public and they get motivated when there’s an issue that affects them.”

Matthews expressed his concern that the on-campus polling site could be in jeopardy.

“I’m disappointed having that few votes in our polling place that the students worked really hard to get established,” Matthews said. “If we have low voter turnout at that location they’ll be looking at that in terms of [whether it’s] a viable cost of doing business for the Board of Elections.”

Not many students voted in the elections, according to Matthews. As few as 27 students out of the approximately 1,200 students registered in the Village actually voted on Tuesday March 20, Matthews said.

International relations and mathematics double major sophomore Meeran Mustafa had not heard about the election.

“If I knew, I would have voted,” Mustafa said. “They could be more involved on social media, like try posting it on Facebook or something like that.”

History major junior Jatin Marwaha said that the election had not received enough publicity.

“They should publish it on the [official class] Facebook pages,” Marwaha said. “I didn’t even know it was happening. I probably should register to vote here, but I’m only going to be here for a year or two more.”

Marwaha also admitted a lack of awareness of village politics. 

“I don’t understand what the powers of the mayor are, so I don’t know what I’m voting for,” Marwaha said. 

For her part, Mayor-elect Duff wants to interact with students when she takes office. 

“I really would like to meet with different student groups,” Duff said via a phone interview. “We did hear some things on the campaign trail that I’d like to investigate further that are concerns of students.”

Duff similarly emphasized that students could engage with the Village Board to talk about the things that they believe the local government should focus on. 

“I’d like [students] to realize that all of us on the board are really very open to hearing from them, whether it be by invitation to one of their group meetings, or getting on the agenda at a board meeting,” Duff said. “I just want to reach out and hear from students”

Matthews expects that student turnout will rise in the fall election, despite the decreased participation in the village election. 

“I think there might be an uptick with all of the national issues that are out there,” Matthews said. “I think you’ll find a lot more interest. We’re obviously going to see a lot more women running for office. [That’s happening] around the country and I think that will happen in our area too."

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