In the January 2004 AMS (UBC student council) elections, Fire Hydrant rolled for Board of Governors on the Radical Beer Faction slate. It finished fifth out of eight candidates, clobbered one slate, came within a factor of two of getting elected, and got votes from about 22% of the people who voted. This sent a rather strong message. I'm not sure what that message was or to whom it was sent, but it was unmistakably strong. There's still a nice policy blurb on the Radical Beer Faction website. Below is a list of the candidates, their slates, and the number of votes they drew.
The campaign was quite enjoyable -- I felt appropriately absurd walking around campus with Fire Hydrant and speaking on its behalf at debates. Mia Amir proposed to Hydrant during the election, offering it her ring, but took the ring back right away. At the following debate, she again loaned it her ring, and the ring disappeared" for 15 minutes or so, causing Mia much distress. The following night, at GSS Council (Graduate Student Society), she offered it a tacky aluminum foil ring that was previously owned by a baked potato. If diamonds are forever, tinfoil would presumably be for a few hours until she's done and it can be thrown away or recycled? She'd had her tetanus shots, but hadn't even dated the Hydrant. At least one member of her own slate had shown the Hydrant much more affection during the campaign, but that's another story. The bottom line is that I don't think Mia was very serious about the relationship. She did, however, invite it to speak to the UBC Board, an invitation it might have accepted were it capable of speech.
Shortly after the election, Hydrant and I encountered Campus Security. They caught up to us within half a block or so, and had some nice questions like "Where did you get that sir?", "Name and student number?", and "Where are you going with that sir?". You can imagine how my answer to the third one sounded, as Hydrant was heading off to speak to the Senate Elections Committee about an irregularity in its election. Thanks to subsequent run-ins with Campus Security, I understand that nobody saw fit to write up an incident report. These reports are posted on a board each morning, and I suppose this one would read somewhat similar to a little-green-men-parking-illegally report.
The BoG election had been briefly overturned due to a particularly spectacular election irregularity, but the Senate Elections Committee (chaired by the Dean of Law) was not convinced the irregularity affected this election result more than any other race, and let it stand. While Hydrant was there to offer its take on the irregularity and confess to its peripheral role, most of the questions it was asked dealt with exactly which loophole it was possible to push a Hydrant through. The good news? AMS council decided to ban slates, after the assorted disasters they managed to cause in 2004. The committee was too busy to close their loophole.
Hydrant attended the Board standing committees in November 2004, but was quite content to sit quietly at the back and observe. It was apparently not permissible to take photos in such a meeting, so this is not particularly well-documented. Somewhat ironically, it was permitted to remain in the room during Closed session -- I'm confident, however, that it will never divulge whatever confidential information it may have heard. To be fair, they did try to move it, they just gave up after less than 30cm.
In the January 2005 elections, Hydrant gave it another try on its own (recall that slates had been banned). It did much better:
That's right, it was six votes away from being on UBC's Board of Governors, with support from about 43% of voters.
At lunch break, it got a chance to chat with/harangue then-VPs Dennis Pavlich and Brian Sullivan (see photo). Somewhat unpopular then-President Martha Piper walked past, and got introduced to it (she hadn't heard of it). She didn't get harangued particularly, as hearing about its six-vote loss ought to have given her quite enough to think about. She announced her resignation at the next Board meeting, effective June 2006. Coincidence? Well, maybe...
You'll no doubt be shocked to find that it rolled for Board a third time in January 2006. Note the result of the rematch with Tim -- FH came out ahead by 208 this time -- and have a close look at what won the paper ballotting. Sadly, Hydrant lost by 48 votes to Omar, to finish third. I was at a conference in California for half the campaign, which probably didn't help (although it worked for other candidates in the past).
There are some really neat technicalities here. Lyle McMahon, 2004-2005 VP Admin of the AMS, had his nomination form rejected on the basis that he was neither a Canadian citizen nor a permanent resident -- his serving on Board would have violated then-Section 23(1)(c) of the University Act. However, neither the Act nor UBC's Senate Election Policy suggested that candidates ineligible to serve couldn't run. But the technicalities ran deeper.
Two other amendments were made at the same time. You see, when the Act was changed to create UBC-Okanagan, Section 19, laying out the composition of the Board, had to be completely restructured. Unfortunately, Section 20, on terms of office, was overlooked (the second other amendment fixed an identical problem for Senate). As a result, all students on the Boards of UBC, SFU, UNBC, and UVic were serving 3-year terms instead of 1-year, as of April 1, 2005. The then UBC-V reps, Quinn and Tim, took office that very day and thus could have served through March 31, 2008 had the Act not been fixed (they could also have resigned to let the new crop of students in).
The election was held on the assumption that the law would be fixed, but Lyle was forbidden from running on the assumption it wouldn't be fixed.
And don't lose sight of the irony that a genuine student politician couldn't run, while a Fire Hydrant could. (Of course, Hydrant has the word "Vancouver" on its head, along with "Terminal City Iron Works", and an arrow labelled "Open", so its citizenship is not in doubt).
In 2008, as I was attempting to write my PhD thesis and escape, Hydrant decided to roll for office one final time, this time for AMS VP Academic (where there'd be some new jokes available). It finished last in a reasonably tight four-way race:
Vote totals were suppressed by roughly 40% due to factors beyond Hydrant's control, and there was some doubt over whether the outcome would be allowed to stand, due to a series of issues and voting irregularities.
It should be emphasized that Fire Hydrant did not make a mockery of this election. If this election was a mockery, that was attributable to the other candidates, the Elections Committee, Student Court, and/or AMS Council.
*Not actually correct, but possibly amusing.