Campus News

Mock Congressional Seat Goes to Mahlstedt

Story posted May 10, 2002

Zhara Mahlstedt won Wednesday's mock congressional election — the first woman to do so since the mock election was first held a decade ago.

Mahlstedt said during the campaign that such a win would be especially fitting this year, the 30th anniversary of coeducation at Bowdoin.

Mahlstedt ran against Travis Cummings in the mock congressional election that is the capstone project for Chris Potholm’s Government 361b. Advanced Seminar in International Relations: Conflict Simulation and Conflict Resolution.

“I feel great,” Mahlstedt said. “But I think that winning didn’t’ really matter; it was getting the issues out there, especially the accessibility issue. That was satisfaction enough.”

Mahlstedt’s major campaign issue was the need for better accessibility on campus for people with disabilities. An accessibility walk was sponsored by her campaign and by FORWARD, a campus group that advocates for people with disabilities. Mahlstedt said that her campaign will work with FORWARD and with Joann Canning, director of accommodations for students with disabilities, to draft a letter to members of the administration outlining their concerns.

Mahlstedt’s campaign also tackled energy savings and sustainability. Keisha Payson and the Office for Sustainable Bowdoin are working on environmental issues on campus, and Mahlstedt said she hopes her campaign helped to increase students’ awareness of these issues.

Both candidates stressed that this type of discussion of issues was the most important outcome of the mock election.

“This election has been a great forum for discussion regarding campus issues that are of the utmost importance to Bowdoin, and I know both teams feel like we have made a difference,” Cummings said.

About 850 students voted in the election, the largest turnout ever. 59.8% of the vote went to Mahlstedt; 35.9% went to Cummings and 4.3% went to the traditional write-in candidate — the rubber chicken.

“Both teams ran solid campaigns, as shown by the large number of students who turned out to vote,” Cummings said. “The project was intended to give us a taste of "real politics", and everyone in the class would agree that it did. Obviously, our team would have liked to have won, but at the same time, we learned a tremendous amount throughout the last month, and we're grateful for the opportunity to do so.”

Mahlstedt agreed and stressed that everyone on both teams deserved credit for a great campaign. “Everyone worked really hard,” she said.

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