Paul elected Speaker in nail-biting election


Photo by: Paul Feric

Future JSA State Speaker of the Assembly, junior, Samantha Paul.

By a margin of just four votes, junior Samantha Paul was elected to be JSA’s (Junior Statesman of America) Speaker of the Assembly for the Southern California region. She will assume her role for the 2016-2017 school year on June 1.

Paul won her campaign during the three-day JSA Spring State Convention which ran from April 8 to April 10. Here, her peers casted votes for the candidates they believed were best suited for the available positions. “It was obvious to me that she is just that kind of person–natural and 100 percent authentic,” said junior and fellow JSA member Tyler Tsuji. “The [Cam High] chapter really loves Sam Paul. It’s really awesome to see her win.”

Social science teacher and JSA adviser Mr. Shawn Near also recognized Paul’s merit, particularly in her leadership ability. “She definitely has good leadership qualities and can lead people through tasks and other endeavors,” said Near. “She’s good at getting things organized, and when she’s focused, she would see the task all the way through to its completion.”

Paul’s new position as Speaker of the Assembly is accompanied by a variety of responsibilities. “Part of the Speaker’s job is to plan [the conventions] and sort of organize and run [them] properly,” said Near. “That’s a big part of what she will do, among other things.” 

For about two months before the Spring State Convention, Paul dedicated herself to campaigning, often forgoing meals, sleep, and a lot of free time. “[My days were filled] with me creating the best platform I can create, calling chapters all over So Cal, connecting with them, and asking people if they support me, although personally, I would never ask an entire chapter to endorse me, because that’s not democratic,” said Paul. “I prefer people to make their own decisions with integrity.”

“She had to campaign to all schools around Southern California to get their support, and she did a great job,” said Near. “I think she will do great work next year. We are very proud of her.”

On Sunday April 10, the election for the Speaker of the Assembly featured a real time vote display. “There were three candidates running for the position. Basically, the chapter presidents bring the votes up to the front and you can see it on the projector in front of a thousand kids as they were reported. It was pretty crazy,” said Tsuji. “The electoral college was removed from the JSA constitution, so it was 100 percent popular vote.”

“The rule is that with three candidates, you have to win by fifty percent majority plus one vote, but if there are multiple candidates splitting [the result], they take the top candidates and do a re-vote again. So that situation happened, and Sam made it,” said Tsuji. “It was so close the whole time; as they were reporting votes, they stayed at 50 percent 50 percent. It was a really tight and ended with Caroline Cai winning at 50.1 % to Sam’s 49.9%. Sam only needed two votes to tie, three votes to win.”

However, the election was not over yet. “There was a Fair Election Committee that was set up. Someone in our chapter was on there, and he came to us and [said], ‘Hey we just found out there was a problem. There has been some discrepancies in the numbers for who is here and how many votes were submitted,'” said Tsuji.

Later, the Committee found out that three students from the 150 students were “kicked out”, but 150 votes were submitted. The final result from the re-vote was that Paul won with 50.7% vote.

After her close victory, Paul has several ideas of what she will do in the future, following the current Speaker Corey Elder’s work in the role.

“I plan to involve the chapters a lot more in voter administration drive, campaigns, and adviser board. I plan to really boost our assembly so they have more representatives of votes, and we actually can take forms of legislatures to pass them onto real life campaigns, so that we can take them from the Junior State to the actual state if California,” said Paul. “It involves talking to a lot of people on State Cabinet […]. This role really depends on a lot of effective and efficient communication, collaboration, and involvement.”

In the JSA mock government, Speaker of Assembly is widely considered one of the top three positions aside from Governor and Lieutenant Governor.