GUSA holds unexpected debate over election of new speaker
GUSA’s first order of business this semester was to elect a new speaker after former Speaker George Spyropoulos (COL ’14) resigned in December. The Senate went against precedent and GUSA’s bylaws to vote against approving Vice-Speaker Samuel Greco’s (SFS ’15) and instead led a ballot election where Senator Emily Siegler (SFS ’14) won the speakership.
Greco lost the vote 13 to 9, and Siegler beat him and two other candidates to win the ballot election.
The vice-speaker would normally take the position of the speaker without a vote in such a case. Bylaw 2.05e states that the vice-speaker must “assum[e] the role of Speaker should the Speaker resign or be removed,” though the bylaw is vague does not mention whether a confirmation vote is required.
But the senators were concerned Greco was not planning to remain in the position. “To vote for someone who has alluded to step down in a few weeks, we are voting for the Senate to shutdown,” said Senator Jimmy Ramirez (COL ’15) in the debate.
Others also worried he was using the position to further his political career. Senator Adrienne Jackson (COL ’16) said: “Speakership shouldn’t be used as a campaign point.”
These worries come as GUSA members begin to organize campaigns for executive elections, which Greco could be posturing for. When asked by Vox about campaign plans, Greco refrained from commenting and stated that Election Commission campaign rules prevented him from discussing a potential campaign before it begins.
In his resignation letter, Spyropoulos believed that Greco would succeed him in accordance with this bylaw and with a precedent established last year: when former Speaker Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) won the GUSA presidency, former Vice Speaker Zachary Singer (SFS ’15) succeeded Tisa with a simple vote by acclamation.
“I want to thank Sam Greco for being an invaluable right-hand man. He has been a tremendous Vice Speaker and I have every confidence that he will do a great job in my place,” Spyropoulos wrote in his resignation letter.
In an email to Vox, Greco explained what he expected from the meeting last night: “I believe [Spyropoulos’] intentions and expectations were clear in that I would succeed him as Speaker as has been done in the past. At the very most I was expecting a simple voice vote confirming what our bylaws and precedent dictate, that the Vice Speaker succeeds the Speaker should he or she depart from the Senate.”
Echoing Greco’s belief, Senator Ken Nunnenkamp (MSB ’16) said in debate: “[The constitution] clearly says there is no vote… when the Speaker is out. We should close down the debate, and Sam assumes speakership.”
The turn of events and ensuing debate resulted in contention that consumed this semester’s first GUSA meeting.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that there were 12 no votes. An additional comment from Greco on executive elections was also added.