In his campaign commercial, now supervisor for the Town of Brookhaven, NY, Brian X. Foley’s message was, “While you are voting to change Washington, don’t forget about Albany” This year Foley ran for a New York State senate seat presently held by Caesar Trunzo the Republican incumbent. Foley garnered 58% of the vote against Trunzo’s 41%. That was quite impressive given the fact that Trunzo has held that seat for decades.
This past presidential election resulted in a turnout never before seen in the world of politics and being a huge fan of voting no matter what the seat is, this was something to herald. This was democracy in action. It became cool to vote in this one election.
Will we ever seen this phenomenon again? I really do not know. Will future races bring out the youth vote, first time voters and minority voters as this past presidential race did? Again, only future elections will tell us so. I for one am glad that many within these demographics came out to help decide this one election. Next year’s local elections are as important and now that you are registered, it is up to you to show up to decide your local races.
Everyone now knows who won the presidential race and for the most part are glued to every movement made by President-Elect Barack Obama. How many exactly know who represents them on a local level? In conversations that I have with complete strangers, I just love to quiz them. It is surprising, but not really where many cannot name who they are. I can name each and everyone.
Within any given newspaper national races such as the presidential races are given prime real estate as one opens up their papers, whereas local races even congressional races are buried within.
We have all heard that newspaper sales have plummeted over the years. This does not bode well for those running at the local level. How does a voting electorate find out who is running in these races, their records and what their message is? How does one fact check what they are saying on the campaign trail when one does not read the newspaper? Most will rely on the mailers mailed out by individual candidates. How many of you actually read these mailers or do they get instantly round-filed?
This year’s presidential race led to heavy turnout when it came to down ballot races, but that does not normally occur and I find that extremely sad. There is a saying that all politics is local, but that is not the case if people do not show up to the polls and vote even in their local elections.
When it comes to the balance of power in Washington, mid-term congressional races and senatorial races bring out roughly 35 to 40 percent of all registered voters. That is pathetic if you ask me.
Normally, the percentage of those who vote in their local elections brings out roughly 25% of all registered voters. That is dismal considering the fact that decisions made by one’s governor, state senator, state assembly member, town supervisor, mayor all the way down to dog catcher have more of an impact on your every day life. I just thought I would throw in the latter position just to make a point since I have never seen who is running for dog catcher on any ballot.
When it comes to local school board elections where one’s school budget is voted up or down the percentage plummets further and in New York State it is held in May. If you are a home owner figured into it is one’s property and school tax. At least that is the case here in New York State. How these funds are allocated by each school district is decided within one’s local school board race by those who hold their current seat and/or who are running as first time candidates. Get to know these candidates too.
In California, Proposition 8 overturned same-sex marriage and folks took to the streets in protest of its passage. How many Americans actually study what their local ballot initiatives? Oh, they are printed in one’s newspaper and again, if people are not purchasing their local newspaper, it is at their own peril since these ballot initiatives will tell how their tax money is to be spent. Me, I study them like a hawk. Then again, what do you expect from a political junkie?
As I sat at a diner close to my local polling place shortly after I voted in this presidential race, I saw throngs of people either walking or driving to vote and I thought to myself: Wouldn’t it be wonderful if local races brought out these numbers? I guess local races are not as important to people’s lives when they should be. The pot holes on your street and your garbage pick-up should remind you of this fact.
With this past presidential race now behind us, one has to wonder if young voters, first time voters and minorities will show up to vote in 2009. Is their such an urgency to GOTV in these local races in off-year elections? Not really. I guess voting for one’s local candidate is not as important and nothing can be farther from the truth. To those within the demographics I mentioned, keep voting. You may just like it. In fact, it does empower you.
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