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Student council member re-elected

Two years ago, Daniel Gordon was hunched over a computer, eagerly refreshing the results of his election against the incumbent First Ward council member.

This year, he ran unopposed and will serve another two-year term.

“I’m looking forward to [my second term] because I can go in with a sense of accomplishment and understanding of the mechanisms of city government,” Gordon said.

A benefit Gordon saw in running unopposed was that it was less stressful and allowed him to “concentrate on the work I’m doing without having to deal with sleep deprivation.”

The work he plans on continuing to explore are bike lanes, the neighborhood cleanup campaign, hosting council meetings on campus and a town gown committee, which he announced plans to start during Monday’s council meeting.

Gordon was not the only city official to run unopposed this year. He was joined by Second Ward Council Member John Zanfardino and Third Ward Council Member Mike Aspacher.

Though it may seem like there isn’t much competition for council seats, as only three of six were contested [while one was not up for vote], there are benefits to having “career politicians,” said Andrew Kear, assistant professor in political science at the University.

“They’ve [already] developed knowledge of how the institution works and developed a network of stakeholders to interact with,” Kear said. “They don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time there’s an election.”

Gordon also had the incumbent advantage, which could have dissuaded competition, seeing as people know him and he is a student in a ward where students are a majority, Kear said.

“Certainly anyone looking at challenging [Gordon] would know he’s engaged with his constituents and in tune with what’s important to them,” Aspacher said. “So they would find it to be an uphill battle.”

With two years under his belt, Gordon said he has learned a lot from his experience that he can take into his next term.

“I think one lesson all of us on council and city administration have learned is the importance of communication,” Gordon said. “Sometimes there are misunderstandings where, if [the conversation] were face-to-face, it could have been ironed out.”

He also learned that on city council, some issues can take longer than expected.

“Going into city council, before starting to attend meetings, I don’t think I had a sense of how long it could take certain initiatives to take root and be adopted,” Gordon said. “Issues that are particularly controversial can take months. When things take months and you only have two years to work with it, it can be difficult.”

That’s when picking your battles in a short time frame can be helpful, Gordon said.

“We’ve had a busy past two years,” he said. “We’re looking at a number of things to pursue to better the community, but things aren’t built in a day, so we have to focus on key things.”

Gordon sees those key issues as improving bike lanes to make the city more cyclist-friendly; the cleanup campaign, which will involve students picking up trash in areas of town; and getting the community more involved in the conversation.

“We need to get the community involved, some citizens are very active, but we want to see new faces too,” Gordon said.

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