For the past year and a half, all of your family reunions, group chats and Facebook feeds have been consumed with people talking about which presidential candidate will ruin our lives the most. It’s easy to believe that the presidency has the capability to drastically alter our futures, but can you think of a time when our current president has directly affected your life? And no, the extinction of Otis Spunkmeyer cookies doesn’t count.
In reality, most of the issues that affect our day-to-day lives are not the responsibility of the national executive branch. Education funding, how much your lifeguard friend gets paid next summer, the eternal construction on Mission Road, even the water from your tap are all controlled by state and local governments.
The Harbinger believes that voters should consider the importance of these local elections and inform themselves on the candidates before they head to the polls in November.
Dorothy Hughes, Brian Cantrell and Matt McCann are state representative candidates you probably think about so little that you didn’t even realize Brian Cantrell is a name we just made up.
We will bet that most voters couldn’t name, let alone describe, the candidates running for office in our district. That’s a problem. You would never hire someone without first reading their résumé, so why wouldn’t you do the same with your elected officials? Serving in public office is, afterall, a job, and we the people are the HR managers.
That said, we can’t shame you too much for not knowing much about these candidates. In the media whirlwind that surrounds the presidential election, local elections often get left behind. When it’s easier to find out what color pantsuit Hillary Clinton wore on July 2, 2003 (aqua), than it is to determine where State Senate candidate Barbara Bollier stands on environmental issues, there is obviously a problem with the kind of information that we value.
The right information is out there, however, you just have to be willing and patient enough to find it. Go to their websites; find out where they stand on issues that are important to you. Read their bios so you can judge if they’re qualified to vote on those issues. If they have government experience, read about their voting record at votesmart.org, because votes speak louder than promises.
We also can’t just rely on the R or D next to each candidate’s name to know where they stand on the issues. There are some Republicans who support access to abortion, and there are some Democrats who want to lower taxes.
This doesn’t just apply to those of you that will be 18 by election day. We will all at one point have the opportunity to exercise our constitutional right to vote. Don’t take it for granted by showing up to the polls clueless.
Many candidates will host meet-and-greets in the weeks leading up to the election. Take advantage of this and use these opportunities to involve yourself in their politics. Ask the candidates questions.Tell them about the issues that matter to you and the legislation they should pass to make your life better.
Besides senators and representatives, there will also be judges, county commissioners, sheriffs, district attorneys and board of education positions on the ballot. All of these people will make an important impact on your schools and your safety, so be smart and be informed.
We get it, it’s hard to be interested in candidates that aren’t chanting “build the wall!” at their campaign rallies. But it’s vital that we make an active effort to educate ourselves on local candidates before Nov. 8. Otherwise, we are essentially building another type of wall: one between voters and the Capitol.