The Associated Students of the University of Arizona filled two vacant senate seats with the election of Katelyn Hilde as the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health representative and Aaron Varela as an at-large representative on Friday.
ASUA held the special election to fill seats left open after two senators quit earlier this semester.
Varela, a marketing senior, just narrowly won the at-large senate position by 10 votes over Stefano Saltalamacchia, who ran for executive vice president last semester and lost after a contentious election.
“It just comes to show we had a lot of quality candidates running, and I’m honored and humbled that the university chose me,” Varela said.
Varela said he supports the other candidates’ platforms and would love to incorporate those ideas into his own.
He said he plans on stepping up and finding answers related to student fees, such as what they are and are they necessary. He wants to be an ally because he understands students work multiple hours a week to pay for college and these fees can appear random.
Varela said that when he first arrived on campus as a freshman, he was not involved. It was not until someone pushed him toward clubs that he finally emerged as a leader in his fraternity, and now ASUA.
After his own experience and talking with freshmen, Varela created an idea of starting a mentor program with resources to help freshmen become involved, gain experience and emerge as leaders.
For Hilde, a public health senior, it was a no-brainer to run for the College of Public Health senate seat.
She said since no one else was running for the position, she didn't want her college to be the only one without a representative.
“I am actually applying to law school right now, and so I thought this would kind of give me an in to seeing the aspects of law,” Hilde said.
Hilde said she does not think a lot of Public Health students know there is even a Public Health representative in ASUA, but she aspires to be a resource for them. Since she filled the position, Hilde hopes students come to her office hours and take advantage of her position.
“I’m just excited for the future of UA,” Varela said. “I have a semester and a half left, and I better make a difference.”
Follow Elizabeth O'Connell on Twitter.