Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Memories from the campaign trail...

The 2010-2011 Student Government Association elections are over. Smoke has cleared, dust has settled, etc... etc...

As we all know by now, I covered the SGA elections very heavily on my blog. Before that, I used to cover the SGA elections in the pages of Concord's newspaper, The Concordian. Being a student for quite a while, I have covered more than my fair share of SGA elections. For several reasons, there is one election campaign that stands out for me - Rocky Seay's 2006 Presidential campaign.

Some of my favorite times in college occured in the spring semester of 2006. That was just a fun time for me. Personally, I was having a lot of fun. "Professionally," my stock was rising within the ranks of The Concordian. It was just a fun time for me to be a college student, and the SGA elections that year were one of the big reasons why.

Just as an interesting bit of trivia, the spring of 2006 was when I initially began blogging about Concord-related matters.

Just for fun, this is my take on what happened back then. Keep in mind, I am going 100 percent from my memory and that these events occured about four years ago.

Cast of Characters, circa 2006:

Chris Slater - Sophomore at Concord University; fourth semester on staff of Concordian; third semester as News Editor

Rocky Seay - Board of Governors representative; unsuccessfully ran for SGA President the year before, losing to Jared Tice; running for SGA President against Ben Dellenger

Brandon Brewster - SGA Senate member; running for Attorney General

Cody Brewster - Member of SGA Judicial Branch; Brandon's brother

Danielle Richmond - SGA Senate member; running for Business Manager against Bryan Henderson

Bryan Henderson - SGA Ombudsman; running for Business Manager against Danielle Richmond

Ben Dellinger - SGA Vice President; running for President against Rocky Seay

Jade Perez - SGA Business Manager

Sean Noland - SGA Attorney General

Jared Tice - SGA President

Jesse Call - Editor-in-Chief of The Concordian

* * *

Before we get into all of that, it's time for a little backstory. The year before, spring 05, Rocky Seay ran for President against Jared Tice. I was a 2nd semester student at Concord. It was my first semester as News Editor of The Concordian. I had recently become "noticed" for the first time due to an editorial I wrote in the paper that was very criticial of Jade Perez.

I wasn't as knowledgeable about the SGA then as I was now. I went to the Presidential debate between Jared Tice and Rocky Seay not knowing a lot about the SGA. I had only one real concern and I asked a question about it during the debate. Both Rocky and Jared commented that it was a great question. I liked Rocky's answer better, so I voted for him. The day after the debate, Rocky and I were formally introduced. He thanked me for asking that question. I told him I voted for him. He thanked me for that as well.

Jared Tice wound up winning that election. Rocky applied to be Ombudsman in Jared's Executive Branch, but Jared selected Bryan Henderson.

* * *

"Secret" Campaign

It's the spring of 2006. I'm standing in line at Subway, in Concord's Student Center, late one night. I hear a voice behind me - "Chris Slater?" I turn around. It's Rocky Seay. I know who he is, but he still introduces himself to me. He asks if he can talk to me for a second. I get out of line and stand off to the side with him "I never really got a chance to thank you for what you wrote about me in the paper last year. I really appreciated that. I'm running for President again this year and I'd like to have your help with my campaign." [note: In the editorial I wrote about Jade Perez, I had a couple lines where I complimented Rocky]

I didn't really know what he meant by that, but I told him I would think about it. He told me to meet him in Brandon Brewster's dorm room the next day. It turns out Brandon lived about 5 doors down from me. I walked down the hall and knocked. Brandon opened the door. In the room were Brandon, Cody Brewster, and Rocky.

It was a very informal meeting. Rocky explained to me his idea for a "ticket," people running unofficially together. We talked about my editorial from the year before that was criticial of Jade Perez. Brandon, particularly, was a big fan of that. We talked about her, we talked about Jared Tice. Basically, we just "shot the shit" about the SGA. It was during this meeting that I first learned that Ben Dellinger was running for President.

Rocky didn't have a clear-cut idea of how I would fit into his campaign. I explained to him that due to my ties with The Concordian, there wasn't a lot that I could ethically do. He understood that. I think him wanting me was just him trying to gather as many minds as he could. He didn't know what he wanted to do with me, but he wanted me there.

At the very least, we agreed that I would take some campaign pictures for him.

Campaigning Begins; Birth of a Ticket

Rocky Seay had the great idea to run a "ticket." He did this to get a wide spectrum of votes. He ran with Danielle Richmond, running against Bryan Henderson for Business Manager; and Brandon Brewster, running unopposed for Attorney General. They were running against the hastily-formed ticket of Ben Dellinger and Bryan Henderson.

Campaigning began, and what a wild ride it was. Rocky's campaign slogan was "Rocky the Vote," a take off of MTV's successful campaign to encourage youth voters. Ben's was "The Underdog."

The first memory of campaigning was probably one of the funniest memories I have from that time period. Myself and Kelly were walking outside when Rocky spots us. He comes over to me and places a sticker bearing his camaign slogan on my chest. He then takes his hand and smooths it out. He places one on Kelly's chest and starts to reach his hand out, then stops, and gets red in the face. He looks at me and says, "I'll let you handle that."

Posters were up everywhere. One of the funniest showed Bryan and Ben putting a "Post-It" note on Rick Dillon, with the caption "Sticking it to The Man." Rocky had a funny poster spoofing Star Wars. To the best of my knowledge, there was only one poster that wasn't approved - it was one of Rocky's with the slogan "You can't teach an old dog new tricks," a play on Ben's slogan.

Campaign in full swing; It's starting to get dirty


One afternoon I was sitting around my room. I got a phone call from Rocky Seay. He was laughing and told me that I wouldn't believe what he had to tell me. He said he couldn't tell me and told me to meet him in the Administration building and to bring a camera. I grabbed a camera and walked over there. I'll admit, what I saw was pretty hilarious. In fact, take a look for yourself -


Ben Dellinger is The Unerdog. A prominently-displayed campaign flyer had a very glaring spelling error. I snapped that picture and before long Rocky had it all over Facebook.

One night, around 3:30 a.m. I receive a phone call from Rocky Seay. I'm wide awake, which prompts Rocky to ask, "Do you ever sleep?" Answer - no. He wants to know if I can come take some pictures of them writing slogans in sidewalk chalk. The only other thing I could be doing is sleeping, so I grab my camera and head out there.

It was a fun time. It was Rocky, Brandon, Danielle, and a couple other people. They made some pretty cool designs. They had me take a picture one one of Ben & Bryan's sidewalk "chalkings" that they think may have violated the election rules. I don't think anything ever came out of it - nobody could prove who wrote it. I don't even remember what it said.

A surreal moment occured when a drunk girl wandered over and started talking to us. She then proceeded to go behind a bush and urinate. While still talking to us. After a few minutes, she finally went back to her dorm.

The chalk-writing continued until about 7 a.m. At that point, they made the decision to just stay up all day. Danielle had a class coming up soon, and Rocky had campaigning to do. Plus, they all had to speak with the football team that afternoon.

Around 3 p.m. I get a knock on my door. It's Rocky and Brandon. "We're going to go talk to the football team. Can you take some pictures for us?" They meet up with Danielle outside. Since Brandon is unopposed, he's not talking. I have to make a quick stop, so I'm a few steps behind them. They're already to the football field and I'm walking through the parking lot. For some reason, I turn around. I see a car directly in front of me about 30 feet away. Jade Perez is staring at me. It's obvious that she can tell I'm there with Rocky, Brandon, and Danielle. We make eye contact. She drives away.

Rocky and Danielle take the field. I stand near and begin taking pictures. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice Bryan Henderson and Ben Dellinger have made their way to the football field. I wonder who tipped them off?






Bryan and Ben get up from the sidelines and work their way over to the group. After Rocky finishes talking about how he'll support athletes if he's elected President, he asks if there are any questions. I don't remember the exact quote, but Bryan raises his hand and says, "Didn't you once vote to [do something that wouldn't support athletics]?" The look on Rocky's face was priceless. The football team broke out into laughter. Rocky opened his mouth to talk, but all that would come out was, "Well, ugh, ugh, umm..." The football coach quickly called an end to the discussion.

They quickly leave. As I'm leaving, Bryan calls out to me. I talk to him for a minute. He asks if I'd be willing to take some pictures for him and Ben. I agree to do it. He gets my phone number, but he never calls me about getting any pictures.

A few nights later, I'm in my dorm room. The time is about 5 a.m. My phone rings. I pick up and hear Rocky say, "Do you ever sleep?" Again, no I don't. "You're never gonna believe what happened! Somebody tried to set Brandon's door on fire! Are you there? Go talk to him!"

I walk down the hall. The first thing I notice is that there's shaving cream everywhere. The second thing I notice is a huge burn mark on Brandon's door.


Brandon's room didn't have a regular, plastic room marker on it, so there was just a piece of paper with the room number taped to his door. That's what was set on fire. I knocked on the door and he came out and I interviewed him for a newpaper story right there in the hallway at 5 a.m.

He was up playing video games with some of his friends, when he heard somebody outside his door. He opened the door and whoever was defacing it began running down the hallway. Brandon took off after them, but they were already out of sight by the time he got to the stairs.

The next day, I interviewed Rocky and Danielle. I got Ben's phone number from Mandy Sole, former Editor-in-Chief of The Concordian, and called him for an interview. He denied knowing anything about it. Rocky publicly said that he didn't think Ben had anything to do with it. Even privately, he said he didn't think Ben had anything to do with it. He didn't rule out Bryan Henderson or Jared Tice, though.

Debate; A private affair

The debate for the elections was an odd event. It was held in the State Room and didn't have a lot of students present. It was one of those atmospheres where the only people there knew who they were voting for. All the "Rocky supporters" sat on the left side of the room and the "Ben supporters" were on the right.

There were only three contested elections - President, Business Manager, and Board of Governors representative. The BOG race was between Jesse Call and John Dunn. Everybody know Jesse was going to win that one. Dunn had to work and didn't even try to get out of it to attend the debate. Jesse sat with Ben and Bryan, for anybody curious.

I came up a couple times during the debate. Rocky was accused of having me write something in the paper to make him look good, and quotes that were indirectly attributed to Danielle in one of my articles were used against her.

Aftermath

Rocky Seay was elected President. Danielle Richmond was elected Business Manager. Brandon Brewster became Attorney General. All seemed well.

I caught up with them shortly after the elections were over. I hung out in Brandon's room with him, Cody, and Rocky. We watched a Cheech & Chong movie and just had a good time.

There were some signs that things weren't going well. Due to an incident that occured during that semester's "Greek Week," Rocky was sentenced to several hours of community service. People were trying to create issues over whether or not he completed all of his required hours.

Brandon was being investigated by present Attorney General, Sean Noland, for hacking a fellow SGA members e-mail account.

The last fun moment that we all had as a group was Rocky's birthday, held that summer. We went out, had a fun night, and enjoyed the collective victory.

It wasn't a victory for long. Perhaps realizing that he would be found guilty, Brandon resigned as Attorney General and took the semester off from school. Rocky chaired the first SGA meeting of the fall semester before being sent to the university's court system for alleged academic dishonesty. He was soon found guilty of self plagariasm; re-using a paper he had previously submitted for a class the second time he took said class. He resigned as President and was suspended from Concord for a period of time.

* * *

There's that tale. That's really the short version, as I could go on about several more aspects. I didn't touch on any of the "drama" surrounding the Concordian staff at the time, I could have gone into a lot more detail with the issues that Jade Perez and I had. I could have talked a lot more about Bryan Henderson. Jared Tice was barely mentioned; I could write 50 blogs just about my experiences with him. This is just the short version, completely off the top of my head, of a pretty cool time period that I was a part of.

If you have any questions about anything, or if you were there and want to add anything, feel free to do so.

4 comments:

  1. Ben half dragged me over to his side of the room when I arrived. I didn't want to choose a side. But, the room was set up with a podium in between two tables. I had to go on one side or the other. I tried to keep my distance from the Ben/Bryan table (not that I wanted to particularly be at the Rocky one either.) I never endorsed a Presidential candidate. I was also surprised when John Dunn didn't even show.

    That setting the door on fire thing was a bunch of crap. I don't think anyone involved with the opposing campaign would have done that because all it would do was cause people to assume it was them (as it did.)

    But, yeah, that whole campaign season was ridiculous. And all for nothing as Sean Noland ended up being the President. I'm okay that nobody won haha.

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  2. In unrelated news, am I the only one who thinks that Amy Poehler and Jade Perez are the same person?

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  3. Yeah, there would have been way too much risk involved for an opposing candidate to orchestrate a fire incident like that. It didn't really accomplish anything, so what was the point? I do think it was election-related, but I don't think anybody directly involved w/ the race organized it.

    And, yeah, I see your point about Jade. I wonder if she'll ever be my friend...

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  4. No loss for you if she isn't. She's a reptile.

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