BY R.L. WITTER
What’s your favorite part of fall? Some will tell you it’s the changing colors of the leaves or the cool breeze that makes a whooshing sound through them. Others will tell you how much they love apple picking, visiting a pumpkin patch, or ingesting EVERYTHING pumpkin spice. Nope; not me! My favorite thing about the autumn season is ELEC- TION DAY!! Yes, I am somewhat of a nerd, but hear me out.
Of course, there are some aspects of Election Day I don’t like, including standing in line and walking to my car in a dark parking lot, but what do I love? I love having my voice heard! I love knowing that my opinions and my voice count and all I have to do is cast my vote to put them to work.
Some say our votes in New York and New Jersey don’t count because we’re “coastal elites” whose states will always vote blue and despite our exponentially larger populations, we still get the same two senators as states with millions fewer people. While the equal representation is true and could stand to be reviewed, our votes still count. Let me explain to you how and why.
Our voting starts on the local level. We have options and I like to vote for all of them! So many people only think of the U.S. Senate, Congress, and the presidency when they think about voting, but they’re missing out on the really big stuff. What could be bigger than candidates for national office? Believe it or not, candidates for local office.
We have the privilege of voting for school board members, utility commission members, councilmembers, judges, and mayors. These are the people who propose and enact the policies and laws that affect most of us on a daily basis. Do you want more speed humps in your neighborhood? That’s the city council. Want a fair, honest police chief or more money allocated to transportation? That’s the mayor. Do you want DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) finally settled? That’s your senator’s job.
Of course, getting to know and voting for local candidates has another benefit beyond the things you’d like to accomplish locally. The better our local candidates are, the better our national candidates are. Afterall, most national candidates cut their teeth in local politics before moving to the national stage. So, if we want better options for Senate, Congress, and the presidency, let’s elect effective councilmembers, mayors, etc. who represent our values and opinions.
With all we’ve been through in the past five years, it has never been more important to vote our values and our consciences. If you don’t want to brave the elements or wait in line, request a mail-in ballot. But if you do decide to vote in person, I’ll see you in line with my pumpkin spice latte.