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Class of 2017 elects first-year leaders

Axler, Firestone to lead First Year Council for 2013-2014 term

First-year College student Abraham Axler beat out nine competitors in the race for First Year Council President Wednesday, securing 55.6 percent of the student vote. Lital Firestone, first-year College student, won the position of First Year Council Vice President.

“I’m really thankful to the students of U.Va. who elected me,” Axler said. “It was really great to get to meet so many wonderful people and hear so many great ideas.”

The election results, announced Wednesday evening by the University Board of Elections following two days of online voting, brought an end to weeks of campaigning in the race to select the heads of the Class of 2017’s representative body.

Well-known for the many elements of his campaign borrowed from Abraham Lincoln, everything from the nickname “Honest Abe” down to a stovepipe hat and beard, Axler secured the majority of the vote after nine rounds of the University’s instant-runoff voting system.

As part of his campaigning effort, Axler donned his trademark cap and traversed Grounds with a group of friends, going door to door, shaking hands, giving out T-shirts and hanging laminated posters in shower stalls. “Since day one, we had a message of communication, collaboration and consensus,” Axler said. “People could remember the ‘Triple-C’.”

Vice President Lital Firestone employed similarly creative strategies in her own campaign. “I sang to people, I went door to door and really engaged [the voters] in the importance of this election and making sure they know the importance of First Year Council,” she said.

With the election won, Axler has already begun planning his first moves in office. “The overall goal is to create an environment of empowerment and to foster a lot of unity within the class,” he said. “The primary role of First Year Council is to plan class-wide events, so one thing that we’re going to work on is a class cook-off system.”

To be eligible for FYC President or Vice President, a candidate must first be elected to his or her Association Council, the representative body for a residence hall association or residential college. Each of these Councils then picks a representative for First Year Council, and President and Vice President are elected from the representatives.

Thirty-five percent of first-year students voted in the elections, down from 52 percent in the Class of 2016 elections of last fall, according to data from the Board of Elections.